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Permission of His Grace the Dike of Portland. 




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j.'ffibMAS LOONEY 

"What a wounded name, 
Things standing thus unknown, shall live behind me." 

(Hamlet, v. 2) 

"Dear son of memory, great heir of fame. 
What need'st thou such weak witness for thy name? 
Thou in our wonder and astonishment 
Hast built thyself a livelong monument." 

(Milton, on Shakespeare.) 




Copyright, iQ20f by 
Frederick A. Stokes Company 

All rights reservedy including that of translation into 
foreign languages 

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The solution to the Shakespeare problem, which it is the 
purpose of the following pages to unfold, was worked out 
whilst the Great European War was in progress; and my 
wish was to give the matter full publicity immediately upon 
the cessation of hostilities. As this was found to be im- 
practicable, steps had to be taken, both to ensure that the 
results achieved should not be lost, and also to safeguard 
what I believed to be my priority of discovery. With these 
objects, an announcement of the mere fact of the discovery, 
omitting all details, was made in November, 191 8, to Sir 
Frederick Kenyon, Librarian of the British Museum, and 
he very readily undertook to receive, unofficially, a sealed 
envelope containing a statement on the subject. As more 
than a year has passed since the deposition was made, and 
as no one else has come forward with the same solution, 
the question of priority is not likely now to arise, and there- 
fore, with the publication of the present work, the purpose 
of the deposited document naturally lapses. My first duty, 
then, must be to express my deep sense of indebtedness to 
Sir Frederick Kenyon for the freedom from anxiety that I 
have enjoyed whilst further developing the argument and 
carrying through its publication. 

It was to my brother-in-law, Mr. M. Gompertz, B.A., 
Head Master of the County High School, Leytonstone, 
and to my friend Mr. W. T. Thorn that I first submitted 
a statement of evidences; and their complete acceptance of 
my solution has been the source of much confidence and en- 
couragement. To them I am also under large obligations 
for practical assistance; to the former specially for the 
revision of proofs, and to the latter for valuable work on 
the Index. 

The relationship of Mr. Cecil Palmer to the under- 

A < o r^ ^7' <3 


taking has been much more than that of publisher. When 
the case was laid before him he adopted its conclusions with 
enthusiasm and made the cause his own. My personal 
obligations to him are therefore very considerable. 

One of the greatest debts I have to acknowledge is 
more impersonal: namely, to the Library of the Literary 
and Philosophical Society, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. The 
unique system upon which this Institution is conducted has 
rendered possible an ease and rapidity of work that would 
probably have been impossible in any other institution in 
the country. 

I have also gratefully to acknowledge indebtedness 
respecting the portraits it was important the work should 
contain: to His Majesty the King for permission to repro- 
duce the miniature of Sir Philip Sidney in Windsor Castle; 
to His Grace the Duke of Portland, not only for permis- 
sion to reproduce, but also for facilities, spontaneously and 
graciously offered, for securing a good copy of his portrait 
of Edward de Vere at Welbeck Abbey; to the Trustees 
of the National Portrait Gallery for similar permission re- 
specting the portraits of Lord Burleigh and Sir Horace 
Vere; and to Mr. Emery Walker, F.S.A., for kindly grant- 
ing the use of several photographs and blocks of these 

I now send forth the results of my investigations to 
face the ordeal of a public examination. Although I have 
tried to regard all schools of thought as so many agencies 
in the one cause of truth, it is too much to expect that, in 
dealing with such controversial matters, I have avoided 
hurting susceptibilities. For any shortcomings of this kind 
I throw myself on the generosity of my readers. I have no 
wish, however, to be spared fair and helpful criticism; nor 
can I hope to escape criticism of the less kindly type : but if 
in the end I can see the truth prevail and an act of repara- 
tion done to a great Englishman, I shall be content. 

J. Thomas Looney. 
December 15//?, 19 19. 



Preface v 

Preliminary Note xi 

Introduction i 

The Stratfordian View ii 

Growing scepticism; Ignatius Donnelly; Anti-Stratfordian au- 
thorities; "Shakespeare" and law; "Shakespeare's" education; 
Halliwell-Phillipps; William Shakspere's early life; Shakspeare and 
Burns; William Shakspere's three periods; Closing period ; The Will; 
Ben Jonson; Hemming and Condell; Penmanship; The "Shakes- 
peare" manuscripts; The First Folio; Obituary silence; William 
Shakspere's middle period; No participation in publication; Un- 
certain duration; Uncertain habitation; The great alihij William 
Shakspere's silence; Character of contemporary notices; The 
Stratfordian impossibility; Absence of incidents; No letters; Wil- 
liam Shakspere as actor; Municipal records; As London actor; 
Accounts of Treasurer of Chamber; Missing Lord Chamberlain's 
books; Notable omissions; Summary. 

Character of the Problem and Method of Solution . . 68 

Authorship a mystery; A solution required; Literary author- 
ities; " Shakespeare's" voluntary self-effacement; Genius; Maturity 
and masterpieces; A modem problem; The method of solution; 

Stages outlined. 


The Author: General Features 84 

Recognized genius and mysterious; Appearance of eccentricity; 
A man apart; Apparent inferiority to requirements of the work; An 
Englishman of literary tastes; Dramatic interests; A lyric poet; 
Classical education; Summary. 





The Author: Special Characteristics 93 

His feudal partialities; Aristocratic outlook; Lancastrian lean- 
ings; Enthusiast for Italy; Sporting tastes; Music; Negligent in 
money matters; Mixed attitude towards woman; Catholicism and 
Scepticism; Summary. 

The Search and Discovery 105 

Choice of guide; Narrowing the operations; The point of con- 
tact; The actual quest; An important poem; Seeking expert sup- 
port ; First indications ; Dictionary of National Biography ; Selection 
justified; Competing solutions. 


Conditions Fulfilled 114 

Personal traits; Personal circumstances; Summary of points 
attested; Remaining points: Sport, Lancastrianism, Woman, 

Edward de Vere as Lyric Poet 121 

Expert testimony; Dr. Grosart's collection; Oxford's early 
poetry; Hidden productions; The great literary transition — em- 
bodied in De Vere; Oxford's style and Shakespeare's. His charac- 
ter in his writings. 

The Lyric Poetry of Edward de Vere 135 

Six-lined stanza; Central theme; Personality; Haggard hawk; 
Lily and damask rose; Love's difficulties; Love's penalties; Mental 
distraction; Interrogatives; Stanzas formed of similar lines; A 
peculiar literary form; Loss of good name; Fortune and Nature; 
Desire for pity; Echo poems; Romeo and Juliet; The Lark; 
Tragedy and Comedy. 

Records and Early Life of De Vere 172 

Reputation of the Earl of Oxford; Reasons for concealment; 
The shadow lifting; Need for reinterpretation ; False stories; 
Ancestry of Edward de Vere; Shakespeare and Richard H; Shakes- 
peare and high birth; The Earls of Oxford in the Wars of the 
Roses; Shakespeare and the Earls of Oxford; The Great Cham- 
berlain; Father of Edward de Vere; Shakespeare and Father wor- 
ship; A royal ward; "All's well"; a remarkable parallel; Education; 
Arthur Golding's Ovid; De Vere and law; Life and book-learning; 
The universities; Relationship with the Cecils; General experiences; 
Dancing ; Shooting ; Horsemanship ; Early poetry. 




Early Manhood of Edward De Vere 210 

Marriage; Sordid considerations; Oxford and Burleigh; Burleigh 
and literary men; Burleigh's espionage; Hostility; Raleigh; Desire 
for travel; Unauthorized travel; Visit to Italy; Shakespeare and 
travel; Oxford in Italy; Domestic rupture; An Othello argimient; 
A sensational discovery; Kicking over the traces; Burleigh's 
methods of warfare. 


Manhood of De Vere. Middle Period. Dramatic 
Foreground 242 

Gabriel Harvey; Holof ernes; Oxford and Berowne; Philip 
Sidney; Boyet; Eccentricity; Vulgar scandal; Dramatic activities; 
Anthony Munday; Agamemnon and Ulysses; Troilus and Cressida; 
Lyly and the Oxford Boys; Shakespeare and Lyly; Apparent in- 
activity; Spenser and De Vere; Spenser's "Willie"; Shakespeare 
and "Will." 

Manhood of De Vere. An Interlude 295 

Execution of Mary Queen of Scots and funeral of Philip Sidney; 
Oxford and his times; Shakespeare and politicians; Mary Queen 
of Scots and Portia; Spanish Armada and Shakespeare; Death of 
Lady Oxford. 


Manhood of De Vere. Final Period 307 

Material difficulties; Second marriage; An important blank; 
Shakespeare's method of production; Dating the plays; Rapid issue; 
Dramatic reserves; Habits of revision; De Vere a precisionist; 
State plays and literature; Plays as poems; Henry Wriothesley a 
personal link; Contemporary parties; Southampton, Bacon and 
De Vere; Death of Queen Elizabeth; The Boar's Head Tavern and 
Gadshill; Death of De Vere. 

Posthumous Considerations 345 

An unfinished task; Death's arrest; "Lear" and "Macbeth"; 
Three periods of Shakespeare publication; Posthumous publica- 
tions; "Pericles" and the Sonnets; "King Lear" and "Troilus"; 
"Hamlet"; First Folio; William Shakspere's purchases; William 
Shakspere's supposed retirement and Oxford's death; Loyal 
helpers; Henry Wriothesley; The 1602 gap; Horatio de Vere; The 
second Lady Oxford; The series of sonnets closes; Summary; A 
conclusive combination; The substitution. 




Poetic Self-Revelation. The Sonnets 369 

Resum^ of points already treated; Southampton the better 
angel; W. H. and T. T.; The poet's age; Southampton and Oxford's 
daughter Elizabeth ; a significant marriage proposal ; Sentiment of 
the sonnets; The dark lady; Supplementary details; The inventor 
of the Shakespearean sonnet; An early sonnet by Edward de Vere; 
Romeo and Juliet. 

Dramatic Self-revelation — Hamlet 390 

Shakespeare's contemporaries in his plays; The dramatist in his 
dramas; Hamlet and destiny; Hamlet is Shakespeare; De Vere as 
Hamlet; Hamlet's father and mother; Hamlet and Polonius; 
Ophelia; Horatio; Patron of Drama; Minor points; Hamlet and his 
times; Hamlet's dying appeal. 


Chronological Summary of Edward de Vere and 
Shakespeare 415 

Conclusion 420 

The Tempest 429 

A check; The Tempest and other comedies; Shakespeare's 
philosophy : Quality of the play ; Dumb show and noise ; Shakes- 
pearean details; Wit; A play apart; Medievalism; Woman; Horse- 
manship ; Sport; Human nature; General Vocabulary; Not "Shakes- 
peare's" work. 

Supplementary Matters 454 

The " Posthimious " argument; Oxford's Crest; Martin Droes- 
hout's engraving; The Grafton portrait. 

INDEX 459 


In discussing the authorship of the Shakespeare plays and 
poems it is necessary to guard against the ambiguity attach- 
ing to the name "Shakespeare." 

Following the example of the Baconians and Sir 
George Greenwood, I have spelt the word with an "e" in 
the first syllable, and an "a" in the final syllable — "Shake- 
speare"- — when referring to the author, whoever he may 
have been; and without these two letters — "Shakspere" — 
when referring to the person hitherto credited with the 
authorship. By the addition of the Christian name In the 
latter case, and in other ways, I have tried to accentuate 
the distinction. 

In immaterial connections the former Is usually em- 
ployed, and in quotations the spelling of the original is 
generally followed. 


As a much graver responsibility attaches to the publication 
of the following pages than is usual in the case of treatises 
on literary subjects, it is impossible to deal with the matter 
as impersonally as one might wish. The transference of 
the honour of writing the immortal Shakespeare dramas 
from one man to another, if definitely effected, becomes not 
merely a national or contemporary event, but a world event 
of permanent importance, destined to leave a mark as 
enduring as human literature and the human race itself . 
No one, therefore, who has a due sense of these things is 
likely to embark upon an enterprise of this kind in a spirit 
of levity or adventure ; nor will he feel entitled to urge con- 
victions tending to bring about so momentous a change as 
if he were merely proposing some interesting thesis. How- 
ever much the writer of a work like the present might wish 
to keep himself in the background he is bound to implicate 
himself so deeply as to stake publicly his reputation 
for sane and sober judgment, and thus to imperil the credit 
of his opinion on every other subject. It would therefore 
have been more discreet or diplomatic to have put forward 
the present argument tentatively at first, as a possible or 
probable, rather than an actual solution of the Shakespeare 
problem. The temptation to do this was strong, but the 
weight of the evidence collected has proved much too great 
and conclusive to permit of this being done with even a fair 
measure of justice either to the case or to my own honest 
convictions. Only one course then was open to me. The 
greater responsibility had to be incurred; and therefore 
some remark upon the circumstances under which the inves- 
tigations came to be undertaken is not only justifiable but 


For several years in succession I had been called upon 
to go through repeated courses of reading in one particular 
play of Shakespeare's, namely "The Merchant of Venice." 
This long continued familiarity with the contents of one 
play induced a peculiar sense of intimacy with the mind 
and disposition of its author and his outlook upon life. 
The personality which seemed to run through the pages of 
the drama I felt to be altogether out of relationship with 
what was taught of the reputed author and the ascertained 
facts of his career. For example, the Stratford Shakspere 
was untravelled, having moved from his native place to Lon- 
don when a young man, and then as a successful middle- 
aged man of business he had returned to Stratford to attend 
to his lands and houses. This particular play on the 
contrary bespoke a writer who knew Italy at first hand and 
was touched with the life and spirit of the country. Again 
the play suggested an author with no great respect for 
money and business methods, but rather one to whom ma- 
terial possessions would be in the nature of an encum- 
brance to be easily and lightly disposed of: at any rate one 
who was by no means of an acquisitive disposition. This 
was hardly the type of man to have risen from poverty to 
affluence by his own efforts when but little more than thirty 
years of age, nor was such a man likely to have been re- 
sponsible for some of the petty money transactions re- 
corded of the Stratford man. Other anomalies had forced 
themselves upon my attention and had done much to under- 
mine my faith in the orthodox view. The call of other 
interests, however, prevented my following up the ques- 
tion with any seriousness. 

A recurrence of the old doubts under new circumstances 
led me at length to look more closely into the problem and 
to consult Vv^riters who had dealt with it. These convinced 
me that the opponents of the orthodox view had made good 
their case to this extent, that there was no sufficient evi- 
dence that the man William Shakspere had written the 
works with which he was credited, whilst there was a very 


strong prima facie presumption that he had not. Every- 
thing seemed to point to his being but a mask, behind which 
some great genius, for inscrutable reasons, had elected to 
work out his own destiny. I do not maintain that any sin- 
gle objection, to what for convenience sake we must call 
the Stratfordian view, afforded by itself sufficient grounds 
for regarding it as untenable; for most of these objections 
have been stoutly combated severally, by men whose opin- 
ions are entitled to respect. It was rather the cumulative 
effect of the many objections which, it appeared to me, made 
it impossible to adhere with any confidence to the old view 
of things, and so gave to the whole situation an appear- 
ance of inexplicable mystery. 

Here, then, were the greatest literary treasures of Eng- 
land, ranked by universal consent amongst the highest lit- 
erary achievements of mankind, to all intents and purposes 
of unknown origin. The immediate effect of such a con- 
viction was the sense of a painful hiatus in the general out- 
look upon the supreme accomplishments of humanity; a 
want much more distressing than that which is felt about 
the authorship of writings like the Homeric poems, because 
the matter touches us more directly and intimately. It was 
impossible, I felt, to leave things thus, if by any means the 
problem could be solved and the gap filled up. I re- 
solved, therefore, notwithstanding the extreme boldness, 
or rather presumption, of the undertaking to attempt a so- 
lution of the problem. 

At the beginning it was mainly the fascination of an 
Interesting enquiry that held me, and the matter was pur- 
sued in the spirit of simple research. As the case has de- 
veloped, however, it has tended increasingly to assume the 
form of a serious purpose, aiming at a long overdue act 
of justice and reparation to an unappreciated genius who, 
we believe, ought now to be put in possession of his right- 
ful honours; and to whose memory should be accorded a 
gratitude proportionate to the benefits he has conferred 


upon mankind in general, and the lustre he has shed upon 
England in particular. 

That one who is not a recognized authority or an ex- 
pert in literature should attempt the solution of a problem 
which has so far baffled speciahsts must doubtless appear 
to many as a glaring act of overboldness ; whilst to pretend 
to have actually solved this most momentous of hterary 
puzzles will seem to some like sheer hallucination. A little 
reflection ought, however, to convince any one that the 
problem is not, at bottom, purely hterary. That is to say, 
its solution does not depend wholly upon the extent of 
the investigator's knowledge of hterature nor upon the 
soundness of his literary judgment. This is probably why 
the problem has not been solved before now. It has been 
left mainly in the hands of literary men, whereas its solu- 
tion required the application of methods of research which 
are not, strictly speaking, literary methods. The imperfec- 
tion of my own hterary equipment, of which I was only 
too conscious, was therefore no reason why I should not 
attempt the task; and if the evidence collected in support of 
any proposed solution should of itself prove satisfactory, 
its validity ought not to be in any way affected by considera- 
tions purely personal to the investigator. 

I proceeded accordingly to form plans for searching 
for the real author of Shakespeare's plays. These plans 
were outlined before taking any step, and will be fully ex- 
plained in due course. Personally, I have not the slightest 
doubt as to their having succeeded. Whether I shall be 
able to so present the case as to establish an equally strong 
conviction in the minds of others, is, of course, a vastly 
different matter. The force of a conviction is frequently 
due as much to the manner in which the evidence presents 
itself, as to the intrinsic value of the evidence. For exam- 
ple, when a theory, that we have formed from a considera- 
tion of certain facts, leads us to suppose that certain other 
facts will exist, the later discovery that the facts are ac- 
tually in accordance with our inferences becomes a much 


stronger confirmation of our theory than if we had known 
these additional facts at the outset. We state this prin- 
ciple in matters of science when we aiiirm that the supreme 
test and evidence of the soundness of a scientific theory is 
its power of enabling us to foresee some events as a con- 
sequence of others. The manner, therefore, in which facts 
and ideas have been arrived at becomes itself an important 
element in the evidence; and it is this consideration which 
has decided for me the method most suitable for presenting 
the case. 

Though it is impossible ever to carry the minds of others 
through precisely the same processes as those by which 
one's own settled beliefs have been reached, it has seemed 
to me that in this instance some attempt of the kind should 
be made in order that the reader, in seeing how readily 
newly discovered particulars have arranged themselves in 
a clear order around an original hypothesis, may come to 
feel something of the same certainty which these things 
have produced in my own mind. As a matter of fact, 
some of the most convincing evidence presented itself after 
my theory of the authorship had already assumed the form 
of a settled conviction, and indeed after this work was vir- 
tually completed; thus rendering my receding from the the- 
ory practically impossible. To others, however, who might 
only see it in the general mass of accumulated evidence, it 
could not appeal with anything like the same compelling 
force. These considerations have decided me to present 
the case as far as possible in the form of a representation 
of the various stages through which the enquiry was pur- 
sued, the manner in which the evidence was collected, and 
the process by which an accumulating corroboration trans- 
formed a theory into an irresistible conviction. 

What at first blush may appear a pedantic description 
of a method ought, therefore, to be viewed as in itself 
a distinctive form of evidence. I would ask, then, that 
it be regarded as such, and that what would otherwise be 


an unseemly obtrusion of personality be excused accord- 

The reader's indulgence must also be sought on another 
score. The first steps in an enquiry pursued according to 
the method I had to adopt were inevitably slow, and this 
may import a measure of tediousness into the introductory 
stages of an exposition following on the same lines. Yet 
without a patient attention to the various steps of the en- 
quiry the unity and conclusiveness of the argument as a 
whole might be missed. Although these pages are ad- 
dressed to the general reader rather than to literary schol- 
ars, I am obliged to assume a serious desire to discover the 
truth and a willingness to take some trouble to arrive at 
it. Especially must I ask for that concentrated individual 
reflection by which alone the various parts of the argument 
may be seen as a whole: a practice which, we are afraid, is 
somewhat alien to the purely literary mind. 

In one or two instances I have no doubt made use 
of books that are somewhat rare, the most critical chapter 
of the work, in fact, depending w^iolly upon a v/ork, copies 
of which are not readily accessible to every one : neverthe- 
less it will be found that nothing important In the argument 
rests upon newly unearthed data. Everything has been ac- 
cessible for years to any one who might have been on the 
lookout for the facts, and was prepared to take trouble to 
ascertain them. Even where personal judgments consti- 
tute important elements In the evidence, as Is natural in 
enquiries of this nature, the case has been made to rest at 
almost every critical stage, not upon my own judgment 
alone, but upon the statements of writers of recognized 
standing and authority whose works have for some time been 
before the public. In most cases It will be found that the 
authorities quoted are writers of the Stratfordlan school. 
Great as are my obligations specially to Sir George Green- 
wood's work, I have purposely refrained from quoting 
from It when I might often have done so with advantage to 
my own argument, and preferred resting upon the authority 


of writers of the opposite school. How completely these 
writers support my thesis, will I trust be apparent in the 
sequel. This being so, the question might reasonably be 
asked: how comes it that the discovery which is claimed 
has not been made before now? The answer to this ques- 
tion is to be found in the history of almost all the important 
advances that man has made. The basic facts of his dis- 
coveries have usually been well known for some time be- 
fore. What has been of special consequence has been the 
perception, sometimes purely accidental, of a relationship 
amongst these facts hitherto not noticed. Once detected, 
however, other facts have become grouped and co-ordi- 
nated by it, and the resultant discovery, for which mankind 
had probably waited long, appears at last so natural and 
obvious, that men wonder that it had not been thought of 
before. This may be taken as a compendium of human 
discovery generally. 

In almost every such case there has been a preparatory 
movement towards the discovery; a movement in which 
many minds have participated; and the one who has been 
fortunate enough to make the discovery has frequently 
been, in important respects, inferior to those into whose 
labours he has entered. Now, I have no doubt that Shake- 
spearean study has of late years been making surely to- 
wards the discovery of the real author of the works. I 
can detect two distinct currents of literary interest, which, 
it seems to me, were bound ultimately to converge, and in 
their converging disclose the authorship. The first of 
these has been the tendency to put aside the old conception 
of a writer creating everything by the vigour of his imagi- 
nation, and to regard the writings as reflecting the person- 
ality and experiences of their author. The result has been 
the gradual rise of a conception of the personality of 
"Shakespeare," differing very widely from the conventional 
figure: an outstanding expression of this tendency being 
Mr. Frank Harris's work on "The Man Shakespeare." The 
second airrent, only faintly perceptible as yet, has been 


slowly forcing from obscurity, into our knowledge of Eliza- 
bethan literature and drama, the name and figure of one 
still quite unknown to the vast mass of his countrymen. 
These two movements, if continued, had in them the pos- 
sibility of the discovery; though how long that discovery 
might have been deferred, no one can say. 

What I have to propose, however, is not an accidental 
discovery, but one resulting from a systematic search. And 
it is to the nature of the method, combined with a happy 
inspiration and a fortunate chance, that the results here 
described were reached. 

In presenting a thesis the strength of which must de- 
pend largely upon the convergence of several separate lines 
of argument, a certain amount of repetition of particular 
facts is unavoidable, and in this matter I have preferred 
to risk an unnecessary reiteration rather than an incomplete 
statement of any particular argument. The reason for 
such repetition it is hoped will not be overlooked. My 
object being to solve an important problem rather than to 
swell the supply of literature, all merely literary considera- 
tions have been kept subordinate to the central purpose. 

One other matter^ affecting the general presentation 
of the argument remains to be mentioned. As originally 
written the work contained no special examination of Strat- 
fordianism, but merely incidental observations scattered 
throughout the various chapters. My feeling was that suf- 
ficient had already been written by others upon the subject; 
that short of absolute proof of the negative, the anti-Strat- 
fordians had established their case, and that what was 
wanted was not more evidence but a serious attention to 
what had already been written, and above all a reasonable 
positive hypothesis to put in the place of the old one. From 
this point of view it seemed possible to begin my argument 
at the point where others had left off. I was, however, 
advised by friends, more capable than myself of judging 
the needs of readers, to make my argument complete in 
itself, by presenting first of all the case for the negative 


view, and thus clearing the way for my own special In- 
vestigations. This change of plan Is bound to Involve 
what might appear like wanton and pointless repetition In 
several Instances, and may Interfere with the unity of the 
constructive scheme of exposition. I would, however, urge 
the reader not to linger unduly over the things that are des- 
tined to pass away, but to press on to a consideration of 
those matters which, If there be truth In my thesis, will en- 
dure, at least so long as the English language Is under- 

Ill II 


The Stratfordian View 

Ex nlhild nihil fit 


In spite of the efforts of orthodox Stratfordlans to belittle 
the investigations that have been made into the question of 
the authorship of the Shakespeare dramas; 
perhaps indeed because of the very manner they Growing 
have chosen to adopt, the number of Britons 
and Americans, to say nothing of the non-English speaking 
nationalities, who do not believe that William Shakspere of 
Stratford produced the literature with which he is credited 
is steadily on the increase. Outside the ranks of those who 
have deeply committed themselves in print it is indeed 
difficult nowadays to find any one in the enjoyment of a 
full and assured faith. At the same time the resort of the 
faithful few to contemptuous expressions in speaking of 
opponents is clearly indicative of uneasiness even amongst 
the most orthodox litterateurs. 

The unfortunate "cryptogram" of Ignatius Donnelly, 
whilst tending to bring the enquiry into disrepute with minds 
disposed to serious research, has been unable altogether to 
nullify the effects of the negative criticism with which his 
work opens. The supplementing of this by writers of the 
calibre of Lord Penzance, Judge Webb, Sir George Green- 
wood, and Professor Lefranc has raised the problem to a 
level which will not permit of its being airily dismissed 
without thereby reflecting adversely on the capacity and 



judgment of the controversialists who would thus persist 
in giving artifice instead of argument. That, however, Is 
their concern. The common sense of the rank and file of 
Shakespeare students, when unhampered by past committals, 
leads irresistibly towards the rejection of the old Idea of 
authorship; and only the doctors of the ancient literary cult 
hang In the rear. 

Nevertheless, much remains to be done before the 
Stratfordian hypothesis will be sufficiently moribund to be 
neglected. And although this work Is addressed mainly to 
those who are either in search of a more reasonable 
hypothesis, or, having become awakened to a sense of the 
existence of the "Shakespeare Problem" are willing to take 
the trouble to examine Impartially what has already been 
written by others on the subject, the present argument 
would probably be Incomplete without a more explicit treat- 
ment of the Stratfordian point of view than has been given 
in the main body of the treatise. At the same time it is 
Impossible to present the antl-Stratfordian argument com- 
pletely without adding enormously to the bulk of the work. 
Moreover, as we have a very definite positive argument to 
unfold we wish to avoid the dangers of diverting attention 
from it by giving an unnecessary prominence to the negative 
argument so ably treated by previous writers. That 
negative argument, like its present constructive counterpart, 
is cumulative; and, like every sound cumulative argument, 
each of these is receiving additional corroboration and con- 
firmation with almost every new fact brought to light in 
respect to it. How much of this accumulated material it is 
necessary to present before the case can be considered 
amply and adequately stated must needs depend largely 
upon the preparedness and partialities of those addressed. 

Although the thirty years which have passed since 
Ignatius Donnelly's work appeared have witnessed marked 
developments of the critical argument, the full force of 
the first hundred pages of his first volume has not yet been 
fully appreciated. To allow a justifiable repugnance to his 


"cryptogram" work to stand in the way of a serious 
examination of the material he has brought 
together from untainted sources, like Halli- ifonnelly. 
well-Phillipps and others of recognized 
capacity and integrity is to fall behind the times 
in the spirit of dispassionate scientific research. A 
few hours spent, therefore, in leisurely weighing 
the material contained in his opening chapters, not- 
withstanding its incompleteness, will probably convince 
most people that the Stratfordian hypothesis rests upon the 
most insecure foundations: differentiating it entirely from 
all other outstanding cases of English authorship in historic 
times, as for example, Chaucer, Spenser and Milton. The 
exceptional character of many of the facts he has collected, 
the multiplicity of the grounds for rejecting the hypothesis, 
and the general consistency of the various arguments, all 
combine to form a single justification for a negative attitude 
towards the conventional view. A mere repetition in these 
pages of what others have written will not add much to 
its force ; to spend time in expounding its unity is to attempt 
to do for others what any reflecting mind pretending to 
judge the case ought to do for itself. 

What is true of the case as presented by Ignatius Don- 
nelly has probably still greater force as applied to the work 
of men who have treated this problem in more . . 

recent years. It would be perfectly gratui- Stratfordian 

A. J. ' ' ^ ^1 1 -• 1 r authorities, 

tous to msist upon the analytical acumen or 

Lord Penzance, and therefore scarcely short of an imper- 
tinence to brush aside lightly his opinions in matters in- 
volving the weighing of evidence. Consequently, when such 
new arguments as he advances, and the new bearings he is 
able to point out in former arguments, are marked by the 
same unity and lead to the same general conclusions as 
those of other capable writers both before and since his 
time, we may claim that a measure of what may be called 
authoritative research has been accomplished, liberating 
subsequent investigators from repeating all the particulars 
by means of which these general results have been reached. 


In other words, a certain basis of authority has been estab- 
lished: not, of course, an absolute and infallible authority, 
but a relative, practical, working authority such as we are 
obliged to accept in the theoretical no less than in the active 
affairs of life. 

When, for example, three eminent English lawyers tell 
us that the plays of Shakespeare display an expert knowl- 
"Shake- edge of law such as William Shakspere could 

speare" and hardly be expected to possess, it would be ex- 
treme folly on the part of one who is not a 
law'yer to spend himself and use up space in putting together 
evidence to prove the same point. No amount of evidence 
which he might collect would have the same value as the 
authoritative statement of these men. He may, if he cares 
to, claim that the lawyers have not made good their point, 
or he may agree with the general conclusion, and dispute 
the theory that the author was an active member of the legal 
profession. But if he agrees with them on the main issue 
he cannot serve his cause in any way by traversing again 
the ground that these experts have already covered. 

Again, when, in addition to these writers we have au- 
thorities of the opposite school agreeing that the author of 
"Shake- ^^^ plays possessed a first-hand knowledge of 

speare's" the classics, including a knowledge of passages 

which would not come into a schoolboy's cur- 
riculum, it would be affectation upon the part of a writer 
laying no claim to expert knowledge of the classics to re- 
state the particulars, or attempt to add to what has already 
been said some little fragment from his own scanty stores. 
In the same way we are now entitled to affirm, without ad- 
ducing all the evidence upon which it has been determined, 
that the author of "Shakespeare's" plays and poems pos- 
sessed a knowledge of idiomatic French, and most probably 
a reading familiarity with the Italian language, such as 
William Shakspere could not have learnt at Stratford: 
and, what is perhaps of as great importance as anything 
else, he employed as the habitual vehicle of his mind an 


English of the highest educated type completely free from 
provincialism of any kind. 

The "Shakespeare Problem," we maintain, has now 
reached a stage at which such summarized results may be 
placed before readers with the assurance that these con- 
clusions have behind them the sanction of men of unques- 
tioned probity and capacity: thus relieving the modern in- 
vestigator from the labour of repeating all the particulars 
from which the conclusions are drawn. And although these 
compendious dogmatic statements cannot be expected to 
convince the man who claims to have studied the writers we 
have named and yet preserved his orthodoxy unshaken, 
they Avill probably suffice for the average or the generality 
of mankind. Orthodox faiths, however, are usually intrin- 
sically weakest when most vehemently asserted; and the 
persistence of the Stratfordian faith has probably been due 
much less to its own inherent strength than to the want of 
a better to put in its place. 

Those who have had occasion to study Shakespearean 
problems will, we believe, agree that the most trustworthy 
work for particulars respecting the life of 
William Shakspere of Stratford is Halli- phm^pg; 
well-Phillipps's "Outhnes." Writing in 1882, 
six years before the appearance of Donnelly's work, the 
problem of Shakespearean authorship seems never to have 
touched him.; and therefore, undoubting Stratfordian though 
he was, he writes with perfect freedom and openness, gloz- 
ing over nothing, and not shrinking from making admissions 
which some later Baconian or sceptic might use against the 
subject of his biography. Without wishing to imply any- 
thing against subsequent biographies, written in the refract- 
ing atmosphere of controversy, we may describe Halliwell- 
Phillipps's "Outlines^' as the most honest biography of Wil- 
liam Shakspere yet written. 



As, then, the main root of the Shakespeare problem has 
always been the difficulty of reconciling the antecedents of 
William William Shakspere (so far as they are known 

Shakspere's or can be reasonably inferred) with the spe- 
cial features of the literary work attributed to 
him, it ought to suffice that the contention from which most 
anti-Stratfordian argument starts is abundantly supported 
by Halliwell-Phillipps. Dirt and ignorance, according to this 
authority, were outstanding features of the social life of 
Stratford in those days and had stamped themselves very 
definitely upon the family life under the influence of which 
William Shakspere was reared. Father and mother alike 
were illiterate, placing their marks in lieu of signatures upon 
important legal documents: and his father's first appear- 
ance in the records of the village is upon the occasion of 
his being fined for having amassed a quantity of filth in 
front of his house, there being "little excuse for his negli- 
gence." So much for the formative conditions of his home 
life. On the other hand, so far as pedagogic education is 
concerned there is no vestige of evidence that William 
Shakspere was ever inside of a school for a single day: 
and, considering the illiteracy of his parents and the fact 
that ability to read and write was a condition of admission 
to the Free School at Stratford, it is obvious that there were 
serious obstacles to his obtaining even such inferior educa- 
tion as was offered by schools in small provincial places in 
those days. Respecting this difficulty of meeting the mini- 
mum requirements for admission to the school Halliwell- 
Phillipps remarks: "There were few persons living at 
Stratford-on-Avon capable of initiating him into these pre- 
paratory accomplishments . . . but it is as likely as not that 
the poet received his first rudiments of education from older 
boys." Later generations of schoolboys have preferred 
more exciting pastimes. 


It is impossible to deny that the general educational ad- 
vantages of Robert Burns, including, as we must, the in- 
tellectual level of peasant life in Scotland In 
his day, family circumstances and character of and^Burnl 
parents, were altogether superior to what ex- 
isted at Stratford and in the home of William Shakspere 
two centuries before. The following remark of Ruskin's, 
whom it is impossible to suspect of "heterodoxy," will 
therefore not be out of place at this point. 

"There are attractive qualities in Burns and attractive 
qualities in Dickens, which neither of those writers would 
have possessed, if the one had been educated and the other 
had been studying higher nature than that of Cockney 
London; but those attractive qualities are not such as we 
should seek in a school of literature. If we want to teach 
young men a good manner of writing we should teach it 
from Shakespeare, not from Burns; from Walter Scott 
and not from Dickens." ("The Two Paths.") 

This statement of Ruskin's, made without reference to 
anything controversial, furnishes a special testimony to the 
fact that the distinctive literary qualities of Shakespeare 
are the direct antithesis of those which belong to a great 
poetic genius, such as Burns, whose genius enables him to 
attain eminence in spite of homely beginnings. It is hardly 
possible, moreover, to pick up the slightest biographical 
sketch of Scotland's poet without meeting testimony to 
the same fact. The following, for example, we take from 
the first such sketch which comes to hand. 

"Burns was essentially 'one of the people' in birth, 
breeding and instincts ... he has been taken more to 
men's bosoms than any (other) if we except, perhaps, the 
bard of Avon, whose ^admirers belong more exclusively to 
the educated classes^ Spontaneously this comparison be- 
tween the two poets rises in the mind of almost any writer 
who deals specially with either one of them, and leads al- 
ways to a contrast upon the particular point with which we 
are dealing. 


Shakespeare's work if viewed without reference to any 

personality would never have been taken to be the work 

of a genius who had emerged from an uncul- 

and books. tured milieu. The only conditions which 

could have compensated in any degree for 
such initial disabilities as those from which William Shak- 
spere suffered would have been a plentiful supply of books 
and ample facilities for a thorough study of them. It is 
generally agreed, however, that even if he attended school 
he must have had to leave at an early age in order to as- 
sist his father, whose circumstances had become straitened: 
and that he had to engage in occupations of a non-intellec- 
tual and most probably of a coarsening kind. And, so far 
from being able to compensate for all this by means of 
books the place is spoken of as "a bookless neighbourhood." 
"The copy of the black-letter English History ... in his 
father's parlour, never existed out of the imagination." 
Even after his London career was over, and as the supposed 
greatest writer in England he retired to Stratford, the situ- 
ation was probably no better. "Anything like a private li- 
brary, even of the smallest dimensions, was then of the 
rarest occurrence, and that Shakespeare (William Shak- 
spere) ever owned one, at any time of his life, is exceed- 
ingly improbable." Dr. Hall — Shakspere's son-in-law — 
however, possessed In 1635 what he called his "study of 
books," "which probably Included any that had belonged 
to Shakespeare. If the latter were the case, the learned 
doctor did not consider it worth while to mention the fact." 
(Halllwell-Phlllipps's "Outlines.") 

In contrast with all this take the following passages 
from the short biographical sketch already quoted, of the 

poet who, In purely educational matters. Is 
books. ^" placed so much below "Shakespeare." 

"When he was six years of age the poet 
(Burns) was sent to a school at Alloway Mill. . . . (Later, 
his father), In conjunction with several neighbours, engaged 
a young man, John Murdock, agreeing to pay him a small 


quarterly salary, and to lodge him alternately In their 
houses. The boys were taught by him reading, writing, 
arithmetic and grammar. . . . Mr. Murdock left for an- 
other situation (and) the father undertook to teach his sons 
arithmetic by candle light in the winter evenings. . . . 
Burns went (to Murdock) one week before harvest and 
two after it to brush up his learning. . . . The first week 
was devoted to English grammar, and the other two to a 
flirtation with French. . . . Burns laboured at this new 
study with such eagerness and success that he could, accord- 
ing to his brother, translate any ordinary prose author ; and 
we know that to the last he loved to interlard his corre- 
spondence with phrases from that language. And when he 
bethought himself of attempting. In later life, a dramatic 
composition, among the books he ordered from Edinburgh 
was a copy of Moliere. . . . Besides he had read and di- 
gested at an early age many valuable and some ponderous 
books. His father had borrowed for his reading, in ad- 
dition to his own scanty stock; and wealthy families In Ayr, 
as well as humble' families nearer home, gave him free access 
to what books of theirs he wished to read. (Amongst the 
books he read In this way were) . . . 'The Life of Hanni- 
bal,' 'Salmon's Geographical Grammar,' ^Derham's Physlco- 
Theology,' 'The Spectator,' 'Pope's Homer,' 'Hervey's 
Meditations,' 'Locke's Essay on the Human Understand- 
ing,' and several plays of Shakespeare. 

"In his nineteenth summer he was sent to KIrkoswald 
Parish School to learn mensuration, surveying, etc. . . . 
In these he made good progress. . . . The teacher had 
great local fame as a mathematician . . . (The poet's) 
sojourn at KIrkoswald had much Improved him. He had 
considerably extended his reading; he had exercised himself 
In debate, and laid a firm foundation for fluent and correct 
utterance . . . For three or four years after this ... at 
Lochlea ... he still extended his reading and Indulged 
occasionally In verse making." (William Gunnyon: Bio- 
graphical sketch of Robert Burns.) 


Needless to say the particulars given in this sketch are 
not the generous inferences of modern admirers, but are 
The supplied by the properly authenticated utter- 

Stratford ances of Burns himself, his brother, his teach- 

paradox. , , . ^r • , 

ers, and other contemporaries. Yet, with 

such a preparation at a time when books had become so 
accessible; with his quickness of apprehension, his genius, 
and his respect for the good things that books alone could 
give him, Robert Burns remains the type of uncultured gen- 
ius; whilst Shakspere, whose supposed work has become the 
fountain head of cultured English, fixing and moulding the 
language more than any other single force, emerges from 
squalor and ignorance without leaving a trace of the proc- 
ess or means by which he acccomplished the extraordinary 
feat. Burns dies at the age of thirty-seven, leaving strik- 
ing evidence of his genius, but no masterpiece of the kind 
which comes from wide experience and matured powers. 
Shakspere, before reaching the age of thirty, is credited with 
the authorship of dramas and great poetic classics evincing 
a wide and prolonged experience of life. Even in such 
a detail as mere penmanship the contrast is maintained. 
Burns leaves us specimens of calligraphy which ought to 
have satisfied the exacting demands of Hamlet, and won 
the praise which the first editors of "Shakespeare's" works 
bestowed upon the author of the plays. William Shakspere 
leaves specimens of penmanship so malformed that Sir E. 
Maunde Thompson is obliged to suppose that before the 
writing of his first great works and during the whole of 
his early Stratford life he had had but little opportunity 
for exercising his handwriting. 

The exceptional kind of life necessary to have evolved 
a "Shakespeare" under such unhappy conditions would most 
certainly have marked him off from his fellows. No single 
record or even tradition of his early life is, however, sug- 
gestive of the student, or of a youth intellectually distin- 
guished from those about him. Traditions of the oratori- 
cal flourishes with which as a butcher he would kill a sheep, 


and of his poaching exploits and misadventures, survive; 
definite records of marriage under compulsion at the age 
of eighteen to a woman eight years his senior, and grave 
suggestions that on the birth of twins a few years later, he 
deserted her : these things sum up the record of the forma- 
tive years of his life. After narrating the very common- 
place traditions and records of William Shakspere's early 
life. Sir Walter Raleigh, the eminent professor of litera- 
ture at Oxford, remarks: "It is the very vanity of scepti- 
cism to set all these aside In favour of a tissue of learned 
fancies." ("Shakespeare," English Men of Letters.) 


The contrast between the coarse and Illiterate circum- 
stances of his early life, and the highly cultured character 
of the work he is supposed to have produced, yj^/mi^m 
Is not, however, the strongest aspect of this Shakspere*s 
particular argument : although quite alone It is 
enough to have created serious misgivings. The compel- 
ling force of this argument from contrast is only fully felt 
when it is clearly realized that the career of William Shak- 
spere divides naturally Into three periods : not two. We 
have the opening period at Stratford just Indicated; we 
have a middle period during which he is supposed to have 
resided mainly in London and produced the remarkable lit- 
erature to which he owes his fame; and we have a closing 
period spent, like the first. In the unwholesome intellectual 
atmosphere of Stratford. And It is the existence of this 
series of three periods which furnishes the data for a sound 
scientific examination of the problem. 

The fact which, once grasped, will carry us forward 

most quickly to a final settlement of this question is that the 

closlns: period of his life at Stratford stands 

11 , . .1 J -jji The closing 

m as marked contrast to the supposed middle period. 

period In London as does the first, and under 

precisely the same aspect, but very much less explicably. 


The operation of hidden forces and agencies might partly 
account for the obscure youth, blossoming out as the most 
cultured writer of his day. But with the literary fame he 
Is supposed to have won, how can we explain the rever- 
sion to the non-Intellectual record of his closing Stratford 
period? For It Is as destitute of an aftermath of literary 
glory as the first period was devoid of promise. Having 
it is supposed by virtue of an Immeasurable genius forced 
himself out of an unrefined and illiterate milieu Into the very 
forefront of the literary and Intellectual world, he returns 
whilst still in his prime, and probably whilst relatively still 
a young man, to his original surroundings. For the last 
eighteen years of his life he has himself described as "Wil- 
liam Shakspere, of Stratford-upon-Avon"; yet, with so pro- 
longed a residence there, such intellectual gifts as he is sup- 
posed to have possessed, such force of character as would 
have been necessary to raise him in the first Instance, he 
passes his life amongst a mere handful of people without 
leaving the slightest Impress of his eminent powers or the 
most trifling fruits of his attainments and educational eman- 
cipation upon any one or anything In Stratford. In the 
busy crowded life of London It Is possible to conceal both 
the defects and qualities of personality, and men may easily 
pass there for what they are not; but one man of exceptional 
intellectual powers, Improved by an extraordinary feat of 
self-culture, could hardly fail to leave a very strong impres- 
sion of himself upon a small community of people, mostly 
uneducated, such as then formed the population of Strat- 
ford. When, then, we are told that that man was living 
at one time at the rate of £i,ooo a year (£8,000 of to-day) 
— and Sir Sidney Lee sees nothing improbable In the tra- 
dition — the Idea that such a man could live In such a place, 
in such style, and leave no trace of his distinctive powers 
and Interests In the records of the community is the kind 
of story which, we are convinced, practical men will refuse 
to believe once they are fairly confronted with It. 

Had he walked out of Stratford an Ignorant boor in 


1587 and returned ten years later having learnt nothing 
more during his absence than how to get hold 
of money and keep it, there is absolutely noth- f^^^iftters 
ing in the records of all his affairs at Strat- 
ford that need have been in the slightest degree different 
from what it is. There was at least one man in Stratford 
who could write in a good style of penmanship, and he ad- 
dressed a letter to Shakspere while in London. This is the 
only letter that has Been preserved of any that may have 
been addressed to Shakspere in the whole course of his life, 
and the reader may see a facsimile of it in the book "Shake- 
speare's England." Its only purpose, however, is to nego- 
tiate a loan of £30 and it contains no suggestion of any 
intellectual community between the two men. This letter 
reappears under circumstances which would quite justify a 
suspicion that Shakspere himself had been unable to read it. 
No suggestion of its having been answered has been dis- 
covered, nor is there the faintest trace of any letter from 
his pen to any other person in Stratford. We do not mean 
merely that no autograph letter has been preserved, but 
there is no mention of any letter, no trace of a single phrase 
or word reported as having been addressed to any one dur- 
ing all these years, as a personal message from what we 
are asked to believe was the most facile pen in England. 
According to every Stratfordian authority he lived and 
worked for many years in London whilst directing a mass 
of Important business in Stratford. Then he lived for many 
years In retirement in Stratford whilst plays from his pen 
were making their appearance In London. In all, he fol- 
lowed this divided plan of life for nearly twenty years 
( 1 597-1616) ; a plan which, if ever in this world a man's 
affairs called for letters, must have entailed a large amount 
of correspondence, had he been able to write; yet not the 
faintest suggestion of his ever having written a letter exists 
either In authentic record or In the most Imaginative tra- 
dition. And the people w^ho believe this still stand out 
for a monopoly of sane judgment. 


He returns to this "bookless neighbourhood" one of the 
most enlightened men in Christendom it is supposed, yet 
Shakspere's ^^^^ Rumour, whose generous invention has 
occupations. created so much "biography" for him, has not 
associated his years of retirement with a sin- 
gle suggestion of a book or bookish occupations. Possess- 
ing, it is presumed, a mind teeming with ideas, and coffers 
overflowing, there is no suggestion of any enterprise in 
which he was interested for dispelling the intellectual dark- 
ness of the community in which he lived. Having, it is 
supposed, performed a great work in refining and elevat- 
ing the drama in London, and having thus ready to his 
hands a powerful Instrument for brightening and humaniz- 
ing the social life of the fifteen hundred souls that at the 
time formed the population of Stratford, he is never once 
reported to have filled up his own leisure with so congenial 
an occupation as getting up a play for the people of Strat- 
ford or in any way Interesting himself in the dramatic con- 
cerns of the little community: nor even, when plays were 
banned, raising his voice or using his pen in protest. 

On the other hand there are records of his purchasing 
land, houses and tithes: of his carrying on business as a 
maltster: of his money-lending transactions: of his prosecu- 
tion of people for small debts at a time when according to 
Sir Sidney Lee his yearly income would be about £600 (or 
£4,800 in money of to-day). We have particulars of his 
store of corn; of his making an orchard; "a well-authenti- 
cated tradition that he planted a mulberry tree with his 
own hands"; but not the slightest record of anything sug- 
gestive of what are supposed to have been his dominating 
interests. On the contrary he appears, even In his choice 
of a home, quite regardless of those things that press upon 
the senses and sensibilities of esthetic natures. For in pic- 
turing his last moments HaUiwell-Phllllpps refers to "the 
wretched sanitary conditions surrounding his residence," 
and adds, "If truth and not romance is to be invoked, were 
the woodbine and sweet honeysuckle within reach of the 


poet's deathbed, their fragrance would have been neutra- 
lized by their vicinity to middens, fetid water-courses, mud- 
walls and piggeries." It is to this his biographer attrib- 
utes the last illness of the great dramatist, rather than 
to conviviality. 


No relief from this kind of record is met with through 
all the years of his final residence at Stratford. At last the 
end approaches. The great genius is facing 
death and making arrangements for the direc- 
tion of his affairs when his own hand shall have been re- 
moved. He is evidently looking anxiously into the future, 
making the most careful provision for the transmission of 
his property through his daughter "Susanna Hall . . . 
and after her decease to the first sonne of her bodie . . . 
and to (his) heires males, . . . and for defalt ... to the 
second sonne and (his) heires . . . and the third sonne 
. . . and the fourth sonne . . . and the fifth sonne . . . 
and the sixth sonne . . . and the seaventh sonne . . . and 
for defalt to (his) daughter Judith, and the heires males of 
her bodie . . . and for defalt to the right heires of the 
saied William Shackspeare, for ever!^ Then he carefully 
disposes of his "second best bed," his "broad silver gilt 
bole," his "goodes, chattels, leases, plate, jewels and house- 
hold stuff." 

Here, then, he stands dipping "into the future far as 

human eye can see" ("for ever") : this supposed author of 

England's most valuable spiritual treasures, -.x . . 

^ ^ No provision 

The greater part of the works, to the produc- for unpub- 
tion of which his life and genius had been ^^ ® p ^y^- 
devoted, had never yet appeared in print. According to 
the accepted view these invaluable works, which were to 
secure the fame of "William Shackspeare, for ever" were 
drifting about, scattered amongst actors and theatre man- 
agers; in danger therefore of being permanently lost. 


Whilst then he was arranging the distribution of his wealth, 
it was the most natural thing in the world that his 
mind should have turned to these important productions 
and that some part of his wealth should have been set aside 
to ensure the publication of his dramas. With his name 
and fame there was little fear but vv'hat the publishing ven- 
ture could be made to succeed, and that the possible grand- 
children, whose interests he was considering so carefully, 
would have gained rather than lost by his providing for 
the publication. From the first word of this will to the 
last, however, there is nothing which suggests that the testa- 
tor ever had an interest either in the sixteen plays that had 
already appeared in print or in the twenty that had yet to 
be published or in anything else of a literary nature : a per- 
fectly appropriate end to the whole series of the Stratford 
records of him, from the day of his baptism to the day of 
his death, but in flat contradiction to the supposition that the 
greatest achievement of his life had been the production 
of those immortal dramas beside which his lands and houses 
become of insignificant value. 

Any supposition that he had already provided for the 
publication of the dramas Is contradicted by the manner 
in which these works were published In the First Folio 
edition of 1623. Hardly any terms of reproof could be 
too severe for a writer who with a knowledge of the in- 
troductory pieces of the First Folio edition should main- 
tain that that work appeared as a result of previous arrange- 
ments made by William Shakspere of Stratford. And this 
fact taken along with the total absence of any mention in 
his will of the unpublished documents ought many years ago 
to have disposed of the Idea that he was their author. The 
disappearance of the manuscripts themselves, combined 
with the absence of any mention of them In the will, has 
given rise to an almost Insistent demand for a "Shake- 
speare" manuscript, and of this Sir E. Maunde Thompson's 
book on the subject Is but the outward and visible sign. 
For no third rate writer passing the closing years of his 


life In destitution could have been more completely dis- 
sociated from his own literary products than was this the 
supposed greatest writer In England as he passed the last 
years of his life In leisure and affluence. 

One entry alone in the will connects the testator with 
his London career — as actor, however, not as dramatist. 
He left to his "fellowes" Heminge, Burbage, 
and Condell £1 6s. 8d. each, to buy rings. fnT'Sfndell. 
Halllwell-Philllpps in reproducing the will 
gives in italics the parts which had not been in the will at 
first, but which were subsequently Interlined: and this be- 
quest to his "fellowes" is one of the Interlineations. Like 
his wife, to whom he left his "second best bed," the actors 
with whom he had been associated only came in as an after- 
thought, if not as a result of direct suggestion from other 
quarters. This Is the connection which was put to service 
in publishing the First Folio edition of "Shakespeare's" 
works, resulting in what has been recognized as a purely 
fictitious claim for the responsibility for the publication on 
the part of the two survivors. Albeit no one, not even 
Ben Jonson, whose part in the publication has been made 
so much of, ventured to suggest that he had been entrusted 
by the reputed author with the publication of the works. 
If such a task had been entrusted to them It is Inconceivable 
that they should have omitted to mention the fact. They 
assert, however, that out of regard for his memory they 
had, on their own initiative, gathered together the manu- 
scripts of the plays and published them. They, moreover, 
so bungle their account with inconsistencies that Sir Sidney 
Lee admits the Inaccuracy of their story. "John Heming 
and Henry Condell," he says, "were nominally responsible 
for the venture, but it seems to have been suggested by 
(others) . . . the two actors made pretensions to a larger 
responsibility than they really incurred, but their motives 
. . . were doubtless Irreproachable." To this false preten- 
sion, be it observed, "honest Ben Jonson" was party. The 
camouflage was, of course, as legitimate as any other method 


of concealing authorship : but when it is urged that Ben 
was too honest dehberately to deceive the pubHc, we can 
only answer that the fact is there and cannot be gainsaid. 
We may also add, what cannot be said of all those who 
would use Ben's name to prop up Stratfordianism, that 
Ben was a humorist. His motives also, like Heminge's 
and Condell's, "were doubtless irreproachable." The point 
that matters here, however, is that the manner of the pub- 
lication places beyond doubt the fact that William Shak- 
spere of Stratford had made no arrangement for it. The 
entire absence of any mention either of his executors or a 
single member of his much-cared-for family amongst the 
ten names appearing in connection with the pubhcation, 
reveals the same completely negative relationship of every- 
thing Stratfordian towards the Shakespearean literature. 

Seeing that mention has been made of Ben Jonson, 
the forlorn hope of the Stratfordians, it is remarkable, or 
No memento rather it would have been astounding, if there 
for had been any truth in Stratfordianism, that 

the only literary contemporary of Shakspere's 
with whom the latter is supposed to have been on intimate 
terms, the kindred spirit who, accompanied by Drayton, is 
supposed to have paid the one visit that relieved the in- 
tellectual isolation of his self-imposed exile — with fatal 
results, however, for the tradition is that Shakspere drank 
to excess and died in consequence — this boon comrade and 
kindred wit, has no mention whatever in a will bequeathing 
a number of memorial rings and other mementos to friends. 

In addition to the bequests to his family and what is 
probably remuneration to the two overseers of the will, 
he leaves his sword to Mr. Thomas Combe, and money to 
buy memorial rings is left to Hamlett Sadler, William 
Raynolds, John Hemynges, Richard Burbage and Henry 
Condell. Every one of these bequests of memorial rings 
appears, however, as an interpolation into the will: as an 
afterthought at best. But even In his afterthoughts dear 
old Ben has no place. We are assured that these inter- 


llneatlons would be made during his last illness. At any 
rate they must have been made during the last three months 
of his life, for the original document bears the date Jan- 
uary 25th, 1 61 6. "January" is then struck out and "March" 
substituted, so that alterations were being made up to 
within a month of his death. Surely, then, if there is any 
shred of truth in these traditions, Ben Jonson would be 
in his mind at the time. 

Another tradition has it that Shakspere was godfather 
to Ben's son, and even traditional particulars of friendly 
repartee on the subject have beeen preserved. 
Amongst the bequests, however, is one of igifore^^^^ 
twenty shillings to a godson named WiUiam reputed 
Walker, but no mention whatever is made of 
the other godson, Ben's boy. Obviously Ben Johnson and 
his son, the reputed literary comrade and godson, respec- 
tively, of the great poet dramatist, counted for nothing in 
the eyes of William Shakspere; and the Stratfordianism 
that rests upon a belief in the personal intimacy of the two 
men is quite out of touch with realities : precisely the same 
absence of "reality" which marks Jonson's facetious tribute 
to "Shakespeare" in the now famous lines which face the 
so-called portrait of "Shakespeare" in the First Folio edi- 
tion of the plays. 

If, then, there be any truth in the tradition of Jonson's 
visit to William Shakspere just before the latter's death, 
it quite bears the appearance, in view of the respective parts 
which Jonson, Heminge, and Condell played in the publica- 
tion cf the First Folio edition, of having had something to 
do with the projected publication: the interlineation of the 
actor's names into a will that had already been drawn up 
being possibly one of the results of the visit. The non- 
appearance of Jonson's own name in the will was, under this 
assumption, a serious defect in the arrangement: the prin- 
cipals were evidently not experts at subterfuge. It was 
the loss of the last cTiance of bringing into the Stratford 


records of William Shakspere anything or any one con- 
nected with contemporary literature : a loss which all Jon- 
son's efforts years after Shakspere's death could not make 
good. The respective roles which Ben Jonson and William 
Shakspere had to play in this final comedy had evidently 
been badly adjusted. 

The actual part played by Jonson in this business hardly 
comes within the province of the present stage of our argu- 
ment. The important fact is that there was subterfuge in 
the manner of publishing the First Folio edition, and to this 
subterfuge Ben Jonson was a party. There are substan- 
tial reasons for believing that the introduction signed by 
the actors Heming and Condell was Jonson's own composi- 
tion. The general inconsequence of his attitude has been 
exposed by Sir George Greenwood; and any argument based 
upon an assumed literal historic accuracy and unambiguity 
of Jonson's statements has no locus standi; the literal ap- 
plicability to William Shakspere of those statements being 
refuted by Shakspere's own will. 

The significance of the omission from the will of all 
mention of books, still further strengthened by Dr. Hall's 

silence respecting any books of Shakspere's 
Shakspere.^ that had passed Into his possession, confirms 

the impression that William Shakspere had 
never owned any; notwithstanding the fact already pointed 
out that only by an unusual resort to books could he have 
made up for his initial disadvantages. 

Turning finally to the actual text of the will as a lit- 
erary document, the question naturally arises as to traces 

of "Shakespeare's" craftsmanship. "Shake- 
"Un-Shake- speare's" knowledge of law and Interest m its 
spearean" subtleties an3 technique makes It Impossible 

to suppose that such a document could have 
been executed on his behalf without his participation In Its 
composition. Yet the entire document Is just such as a law- 
yer. In the ordinary way of business, would have drawn 
up for any other man. The only part In which the person- 


ality of the testator might have been exposed Is the open- 
ing passage, which Is as follows: — 

"In the name of God, amen! I, William Shackspeare, 
of Stratford upon Avon, in the county of Warr. gent, in 
perfect health and memorle, God be praysed, doe make 
and ordayne this my last will and testament in manner 
and forme followeing, that ys to saye, First, I comend 
my soule into the handes of God my Creator, hoping and 
assuredlie beleeving, through thonelle merittes of Jesus 
Chrlste my Saviour, to be made partaker of lyfe everlast- 
inge, and my bodle to the earth whereof yt ys made." 

The remainder is purely business. 

From the first word of this document to the last there 
is not the faintest trace either of the intellect or of the lit- 
erary style of the man who wrote the great dramas. 

Needless to say the penmanship of the will Is the work 
of the professional lawyers; but at the end we meet the 
only instance on record of his ever having put 
his pen to paper in Stratford For all these p^nmlnYhi'p. 
years he had lived in Stratford, buying and 
selling, lending money, prosecuting debtors, dealing in single 
transactions Involving the turnover of sums of money 
equivalent to thousands of pounds in modern values, result- 
ing In the preservation of the signatures or "marks" of peo- 
ple with whom he dealt, but no single signature of Shakspere 
in connection with these Stratford dealings has ever been 
unearthed. Not until we come to the signing of his will, 
in the last year of his life, do we meet with an example of 
his penmanship in his Stratford records. He signed his 
will. There are three signatures, each on a separate page 
of the document; and, with the exception of part of one of 
them, they constitute probably as striking a freak In hand- 
writing as can be found anywhere. Sir E. Maunde Thomp- 
son, whose work on "Shakespeare's Penmanship" testifies 
abundantly to his faith in the Stratford man, admits that 
if these three signatures had appeared on separate docu- 
ments we should have been justified In supposing that they 


were written by three different hands. With the one ex- 
ception, of which we shall presently treat, the whole of the 
work is so wretchedly executed that It might well be taken 
for the work of a child trying to copy writing of which he 
had only an Imperfect appreciation. It is most like the 
effort of an illiterate man who had attempted to learn how 
to write his own name, and had not wholly succeeded, but 
who was struggling through the process, probably with a 
copy in front of him. 

So outrageous Is It to suppose that this is the normal 
handwriting of the great dramatist that recent apologists 
have suggested the explanation that in his 
experts^ later years he suffered from paralysis : ignor- 

ing the fact that the opening words of his 
will are an assertion of his "perfect health and memory," 
and the further fact that though he managed to produce 
some kind of signature whilst afflicted with paralysis, he 
seems to have produced none at all without the affliction. 
Paralysis had evidently been good for him. Sir E. Maunde 
Thompson does not, however, propound the paralysis the- 
ory; and with very good reason: for the exceptional part, 
to which reference has already been made, could not pos- 
sibly have been done by any one so afflicted. This part 
consists of three words, "By me William," which precede 
the name "Shakspeare" in the principal signature to the 
will. Here we have a single example of expert penmanship 
standing In such overwhelming contrast to all the other 
Shakspere writing as to be most perturbing to the ortho- 
dox Stratfordlan. 

To admit frankly that the words "By me WiUiam" 
were not written by the same hand that wrote the rest of 
the signature and signatures would be to send the whole 
structure of Stratfordlanism toppling into chaos. Sir E. 
Maunde Thompson's theory is that the testator was very 
ill at the time, that he began the writing in a moment of 
temporary revival and fell off when he came to the writing 
of "Shackspeare." Not only is the contrast between the two 


parts of the one signature too great for such an explana- 
tion, but the contrast is just as great between this partic- 
ular piece of expert penmanship and the whole of the re- 
mainder. This is a point, however, in which mere discus- 
sion can do httle. Photographic reproductions of these 
signatures may be seen in Sir Sidney Lee's "Life of Wil- 
liam Shakespeare"; in Sir E. Maunde Thompson's "Shake- 
speare's Penmanship"; in Sir Edwin Durning-Lawrence's 
"Bacon is Shakespeare"; and in "Shakespeare's England"; 
and the most casual examination of them will convince any 
one, we believe, that the contrast agrees more readily with 
the theory that there were at least two hands at work upon 
these signatures than with any other theory. This does 
not, of course, prove that there were actually two hands 
at work; for the writers just named, with one exception, 
would naturally refuse their assent to such an inference, 
notwithstanding the suspicious appearances. 

One other point must be mentioned in connection with 
these will signatures. Halliwell-Phillipps indicates that in 
the first draft of the will, arrangements were 
made only for Shakspere's "seal" : not for his signatm-es. 
signature at all. The word "seal" was after- 
wards struck out and "hand" substituted. By itself this 
might not have counted for much; but, taken in conjunction 
with the fact that on no previous Stratford document had 
a signature appeared, considerable colour is given to the 
supposition that the lawyers who prepared his documents 
were not accustomed to his signing them. Considering, 
too, the looseness of the times with respect to wills — a loose- 
ness to which the various uninitialled erasures and inter- 
lineations of this will bear testimony — along with the pe- 
culiar character of the signatures when at last they ap- 
peared, the whole of this "signature" work might easily 
have been done after the document had passed quite out of 
the lawyer's hands; there being no witnesses to the sig- 

"With regard to the erasures and interlineations, a 


few may have been the work of the scrivener . . . but some 
are obviously the result of the testator's subsequent per- 
sonal directions. ... In those days there was so much 
laxity in everything connected with testamentary formali- 
ties that no inconvenience would have arisen from such ex- 
pedients. No one, excepting in subsequent litigation, would 
ever have dreamt of asking . . . any questions at all. 
The officials thought nothing of admitting to probate a 
mere copy of a wnll that was destitute of the signatures both 
of testator and witnesses." (Halliwell-Phillipps.) 

Although not actually written at Stratford there are 
three other Shakspere signatures which belong to his clos- 
ing Stratford period. The first of these was 
signatures. written in London in 1612, and the other two 

in connection with his purchase of the Black- 
friars property in 1613 : so that no stroke from his pen has 
been unearthed prior to the close of his supposed literary 
period. Of the first, Sir E. Maunde Thompson says that 
it is clearly the work of an able penman. Of the second 
he says that it might be taken for the work of an unculti- 
vated man: this he attributes to nervousness. The third 
is done in a style so entirely different from the others that he 
considers it useless for the purpose of expert examination 
of handwriting: this he seems disposed to attribute to "wil- 
ful perversity." Although, then, he does not actually as- 
sert that they might be taken for the work of three different 
writers, his remarks are tantamount to this. And so we 
may sum up the whole of the writing that has come to us 
from the hand of one who is supposed to have been the 
greatest of our English writers. All we have are six sig-' 
natures in no way connected v/ith any literary matter. All 
these were executed in the last years of his life, after his 
great literary tasks were finished; and are so written that, 
when examined by our leading expert on the subject, who is 
quite orthodox in his views of authorship, they look as if 
they might have been the work of six different men. At 
the same time there is amongst this writing some that ap- 


pears like the effort of an uneducated person, and only one 
signature (161 2) of any real value for the study of pen- 
manship. To this we would add as an unshakable per- 
sonal conviction, supported by the opinions of many to 
whose judgment we have appealed, that the signatures 
bear witness to his having had the assistance of others in 
the act of signing his own name. The general conclusion 
to which these signatures point is that WiUiam Shakspere 
was not an adept at handling a pen, and that he had the 
help of others in trying to conceal the fact. 

As a last remark on the question of penmanship we 
must point out the absence of an important signature. The 
actual deed of purchase of the Blackfriars 
property: a document which was formerly in omis^on.'^*^^^ 
the possession of Halliwell-PhiUipps but is 
now in America, although the most important of the three 
documents concerned in the transaction has only Shak- 
spere's "seal," not his "hand." In other words his own 
part was just such as might have been performed by a com- 
pletely illiterate man accustomed to place his "mark" on 
documents; just as his father and mother had done, and 
as his daughter Judith continued to do. It is upon what 
Halliwell-Phillipps calls a duplicate of this document, now 
in the Guildhall Library, that there appears the signature 
which Sir E. Maunde Thompson says might have been the 
work of an uneducated man : a signature which looks to the 
ordinary reader as if it had been finished by another hand. 
The "wilful perversity" signature is on the mortgage deed, 
now in the British Museum, and is to any one but a Strat- 
fordian quite evidently a connived forgery. 

Viewing then the three periods of William Shakspere's 
career in their relation to one another we have an opening 
and a closing period which are perfectly homo- 
geneous in the completely negative aspect impossibtlity^ 
they present to all literary considerations. 
Between them we have an intermediate period by which 
there is attributed to him the greatest works in English 


literature. The two extreme and homogeneous periods 
belong to his residence in one place, quite in keeping with 
his own non-literary records whilst residing there. The 
intermediate period, with which we shall presently deal 
specially, stands in marked and unprecedented contrast 
to its extremes, and was lived in quite another part of the 
country. With our present-day conveniences, news agen- 
cies and means of communication, it is perhaps impossible 
for us to realize how remote Stratford was from London 
in the days of Queen Elizabeth. We are quite entitled to 
claim, however, that their separateness, so far as inter- 
course is concerned, was in keeping with the role that Wil- 
liam Shakspere was called upon to play. 

So far as the transition from stage to stage is con- 
cerned, few would deny that if the William Shakspere who 
had been brought up at Stratford, who was forced into 
a marriage at the age of eighteen with a woman eight years 
his senior, and who on the birth of twins deserted his wife, 
produced at the age of twenty-nine a lengthy and elabo- 
rate poem in the most polished English of the period, evin- 
cing a large and accurate knowledge of the classics, and 
later the superb Shakespearean dramas, he accomplished 
one of the greatest if not actually the greatest work of self- 
development and self-realization that genius has ever en- 
abled any man to perform. On the other hand, if, after 
having performed so miraculous a work, this same genius 
retired to Stratford to devote himself to houses, lands, or- 
chards, money and malt, leaving no traces of a single intel- 
lectual or literary interest, he achieved without a doubt the 
greatest work of self-stultification in the annals of mankind. 
It is difficult to believe that with such a beginning he could 
have attained to such heights as he is supposed to have done; 
it is more difficult to believe that with such glorious achieve- 
ments in his middle period he could have fallen to the level 
of his closing period; and in time it will be fully recognized 
that it is impossible to believe that the same man could have 
accomplished two such stupendous and mutually nullifying 


feats. Briefly, the first and last periods at Stratford are 
too much in harmony with one another, and too antagonis- 
tic to the supposed middle period for all three to be cred- 
ible. The situation represented by the whole stands alto- 
gether outside general human experience. The perfect unity 
of the two extremes justifies the conclusion that the mid- 
dle period is an illusion: in other words William Shakspere 
did not write the plays attributed to him. To parody the 
dictum of Hume in another connection, it is contrary to 
experience that such things should happen, but not con- 
trary to experience that testimony, even the testimony of 
rare and honest Ben Jonson, should be false. The ques- 
tion of culpability we leave to ethical absolutists. 

The circumstances attending the death of Shakspere 
are quite in keeping with all that is known and unknown 
of his closing period. The supposed poet- 
actor, the greatest of his race, passed away silencel^^ 
in affluence but without any contemporary no- 
lice. Spenser, his great poet contemporary, "a ruined and 
broken-hearted man," dying, as Jonson said, "for lack of 
bread," was nevertheless "buried in Westminster Abbey 
near the grave of Chaucer, and his funeral was at the charge 
of the Earl of Essex." (Dean Church.) Burbage, his 
great actor contemporary, died about the same time as the 
Queen (wife of James I), March 161 8-19, and "sorrow 
for his loss seems to have made men forget to show the 
sorrow due to a Queen's death. The city and the stage 
were clothed in gloom. . . . Men poured forth their mourn- 
ing . . . (and) a touching tribute to his charm came from 
the pen of the great Lord Pembroke himself." (Mrs. 
Stopes: Burbage.) The death of William Shakspere 
passed quite unnoticed by the nation. No fellow poet 
poured forth mourning. The Earl of Southampton whom 
he is supposed to have immortalized showed no interest. 
For seven years, except for his mysterious "Stratford 
monument," he remained "unwept, unhonoured and un- 
sung." Mrs. Stopes attributes this neglect to his retire- 


ment: which supports the view we are now urging, that his I 

retirement involved a severance of such literary and dra- 
matic ties as he might have had. At last the 
first^tribute. silence is broken. The first tribute to his 
memory comes from the pen of Ben Jonson, 
who many years later writes of having "loved the man, on 
this side idolatry as much as any." For seven years, we 
must suppose, had grief for the loss of so matchless a friend 
been hidden in his soul. Then a great occasion presents 
Itself. The collected works of his idol are to be published 
and Ben is invited to furnish the opening words of the his- 
toric volume. Now must his long pent-up grief find its 
fitting expression. Yet these are his words : — 

"This figure that thou here seest put 
It was for gentle Shakespeare cut; 
Wherein the graver had a strife 
With Nature, to out-do the life: ^ 
O could he but have drawn his wit 
As well in brass, as he hath hit 
His face; the print would then surpass 
All, that was ever writ in brass^ 
But, since he cannot, Reader, look 
Not on his picture, but his book." 

These words are addressed "To the Reader"; and the 
reader who can discover a trace of genuine affection, grief, 
or "idolatry" in these lines possesses a faculty to which the 
present writer lays no claim. From such obituary idolatry 
who would not wish to be preserved? Sir George Green- 
wood's view that Jonson had two different people in his mind 
when he spoke of "Shakespeare" seems the most feasible. 
We shall not plunge into the discussion of what Ben may 
or may not have meant by the above lines; but as the first 
printed reference to a departed genius who was also the 
object of intense personal affection the words are a palpable 
mockery. Yet the later and much belated references of 
Jonson to "Shakespeare" forms the last ditch of Stratford- 


We come now to William Shakspere's middle period. 
Sandwiched in between two inglorious Stratford periods, 
what are the actual facts of his London career William 
in reference to the works which have made ^^^le^^^^ 
iiim famous? It is not as an actor, nor as a period, 
stage or theatre manager — the latter being a purely hypo- 
thetical vocation — nor even as a writer of plays for the con- 
temporary stage, but as the author of literary works that he 
has won renown. As such. Sir Sidney Lee assures us that 
he had no hand in the publication of any of the plays attrib- 
uted to him, but "uncomplainingly submitted to the whole- 
sale piracy of his plays and the ascription to him of books 
by other hands." The absence of all participation in the 
publication of plays which, as literature, have immortalized 
his name, is certainly a huge gap in his literary records to 
begin with. 

Again, although it has been found necessary to ascribe 
the first composition of plays to the years 1 590-1 592 — 
otherwise time could not have been found for indefinite 
their production — the first of the series was duration of 
not published until 1597, nor any with "Shake- 
speare's" name attached until 1598. Before that time, 
however, New Place, Stratford, had become William Shak- 
spere's established residence. 

"There is no doubt that New Place (Stratford) was 
henceforward (from 1597) to be accepted as his estab- 
lished residence. Early in the following year, on Feb- 
ruary the 4th, 1598, he is returned as the holder of ten 
quarters of corn in the Chapel Street ward, that in which 
the newly-acquired property was situated, and in future in- 
dentures he is never described as a Londoner, but always 
as William Shakespeare of Stratford-on-Avon." (Halli- 

Thenceforward his land, property and tithes purchases, 


along with the fact that in 1604 he takes legal action to en- 
force payment of a debt for malt which he had been sup- 
plying for some months past, are circumstances much more 
suggestive of permanent residence in Stratford, with an oc- 
casional visit maybe to London, than of permanent resi- 
dence in London, with occasional trips to Stratford. The 
duration of this middle period is therefore most uncertain. 
Even on the assumption that he was the author of the 
plays, authorities differ by at least eight years respecting 
the date at which it closed ( 1 604-1 612); and when the date 
furnished by that assumption is rejected, as it must be in 
an enquiry like the present, the margin of uncertainty be- 
comes considerably enlarged. The absence of definite in- 
formation respecting the limits of this London period is 
certainly another serious omission from the records. 

"Of the incidents of his life in London," Professor Sir 
Walter Raleigh tells us, "nothing is known." He lodged 

at one time in Bishopsgate and, later on, in 
inddents^^ Southwark. We know this, not because lords 

and ladies in their coaches drove up to the 
door of the famous man, nor because of anything else which 
could be called a personal "incident," but because he was a 
defaultant taxpayer (for two amounts of 5s. and 13s. 4d. 
respectively) for whom the authorities were searching in 
1598, ignorant of the fact that he had moved, some years 
before, from Bishopsgate to Southwark. Evidently, then, 
he was not at that time living in the public eye and mixing 
freely in dramatic and literary circles. Sir Sidney Lee 
tells us that Shakspere "with great magnanimity, ulti- 
mately paid" the money. If the claimant had been a pri- 
vate individual there might have been generosity in paying 
an account which could not legally be enforced; but it is 
not easy to associate "magnanimity" with the paying of 
taxes. We must suppose then that either the money was 
due or was paid to save trouble. If the money were due 
then William Shakspere had been trying to defraud: if the 
money were not due one is a little curious to know what spe- 


cial inconveniences could have arisen from his contesting 
the claim. Every record we have of him proves that he 
was not the kind of man to submit to an illegal exaction 
without very substantial reasons. The point is a small 
one by itself: in connection with the general mysteriousness 
of his London movements, however, it has its proper sig- 

The absence of precise information respecting the actual 
location, period and form of his established residence in 
London is yet another of the great gaps in the record. 

From the time when he was described as William Shak- 
spere of Stratford-upon-Avon (1597) there is no proof that 
he was anywhere domiciled in London, whilst chrono- 
the proofs of his domiciliation in Stratford logical 
from this time forward are irrefutable and 
continuous. Clearly our conceptions of his residency in 
London are in need of complete revision. It would ap- 
pear that an attempt has been made to construct a Lon- 
don career for him out of materials furnished by the mea- 
gre particulars known of his actual life combined with the 
necessities of the assumed authorship, and from this ma- 
terial it has not been possible to form a consistent picture. 
In order to bring out this fact more clearly we shall place 
together two sentences from Halllwell-Phllllpps's "Out- 

"It was not till the year 1597 that Shakespeare's pub- 
lic reputation as a dramatist was sufficiently established for 
the booksellers to be anxious to secure the copyright of his 

"In the spring of this year (1597) the poet made his 
first investment In realty by the purchase of New Place. . . . 
(which) was henceforward to be accepted as his residence." 

We are consequently faced with this peculiar situation 
that what has been regarded as the period of uncertain 

his highest fame In London began at the same habitation 
1 . /• 1 • c /" J after 1596. 

time as his rormal retirement to btratrord; 

and whilst there is undoubted mystery connected with his 


place or places of abode in London, there is none connected 
with his residence in Stratford. A curious fact in this con- 
nection is that the only letter that is known to have been 
addressed to him in the whole course of his life was one 
from a native of Stratford addressed to him in London, 
which appears amongst the records of the Stratford Cor- 
poration, and which "was no doubt forwarded by hand (to 
Shakspere whilst in London) otherwise the locality of resi- 
dence would have been added" (Halliwell-Phillipps) . Evi- 
dently his fellow townsmen who wished to communicate 
with him in London were unaware of his residence there; 
and the fact that this letter was discovered amongst the 
archiv^es of the Stratford Corporation suggests that it had 
never reached the addressee. It also permits of the alter- 
native supposition, already mentioned, that having received 
it he was nevertheless unable to read it (notwithstanding the 
superior quality of its penmanship) and was obliged to for- 
ward it to his lawyer in Stratford, who resided in Shak- 
spere's house there. At all events the only letter known to 
have been addressed to him in the whole course of his life 
adds to the mysteriousness of his lodging in London. 

Altogether our efforts to come to close grips with the 
period of his greatest fame, on the solid ground of authen- 
Shrinkage ticated fact, have yielded most unsatisfactory 

of middle results. We have no positive knowledge of 

his being in London before 1592 : the year of 
Greene's attack, in which he is accused of beautifying him- 
self in the feathers of others, along with an innuendo sug- 
gesting that he was an uncultivated man, a "rude groome" 
and a "usurer." And we have no record of actual resi- 
dence in London after 1596, when "according to a memo- 
randum by Alleyn he lodged near the Bear Garden in South- 
wark." This is precisely the time at which his father, who 
resided at Stratford, acting, it is generally agreed, upon 
William Shakspere's initiative, made his first attempt to 
obtain a coat of arms on false pretences. The following 
year saw his purchase of New Place, Stratford, and as, in 


the next year, he is returned as one of the largest holders 
of corn In Stratford, everything points to this being the ac- 
tual time at which he established himself in his native town 
— if we may so dignify the Stratford of that day. The defi- 
nitely assured London period appears then to be shrinking 
from twenty to a mere matter of four years (i 592-1 596), 
during which there is not a single record of his personal ac- 
tivities beyond the appearance of his name in a list of actors, 
but evidently much mystery as to his actual whereabouts. 
The literary references to the poems we shall treat 
separately. It was in this period that "Venus" and 
"Lucrece" appeared (1593 and 1594 respectively), and it 
was in this period that the great man who was supposed to 
have produced these famous poems eluded the vigilance 
of the tax gatherer. 

"The Bishopsgate levy of October, 1596, as well as that 
of 1598 is now shown to have been based on an assessment 
made as early as 1593 or 1594. Payment was obviously 
sought at the later dates in ignorance of the fact that Shake- 
speare {i.e. Shakspere) had by that time left St. Helens 
(Bishopsgate) long since for South London" (Sir Sidney 
Lee). According to modern Stratfordians he lived in Lon- 
don as a famous man for sixteen years after this (1596- 
16 12) without betraying his settled place of residence. 

In 1597 the publication of the plays begins in real 
earnest. In 1598 they begin to appear with "Shake- 
speare's" name attached. From then till ^juiam 
1604 was the period of full flood of publica- Shakspere's 
tion during William Shakspere's lifetime: 
and this great period of "Shakespearean" publication 
( 1 597-1 604) corresponds exactly with William Shakspere's 
busiest period in Stratford. In 1597 he began the business 
connected with the purchase of New Place. Complications 
ensued, and the purchase was not completed till 1602. "In 
1598 he procured stone for the repair of the house, and 
before 1602 had planted a fruit orchard." (S. L.) In 
1597 his father and mother, "doubtless under their son's 


guidance," began a lawsuit "for the recovery of the mort- 
gaged estate of Asbles in WUmcote . . . (which) dragged 
on for some years." (S. L. ) "Betv/een 1597 and 1599 
(he was) rebuilding the house, stocking the barns with 
grain, and conducting various legal proceedings." (S. L. ) 
In 1 60 1 his father died and he took over his father's prop- 
erty. On May i, 1602, he purchased 107 acres of arable 
land. In September, 1602, "and Walter Getley transferred 
to the poet a cottage and garden which were situated at 
Chapel Lane opposite the lower grounds of New Place." 
"As early as 1598 Abraham Sturley had suggested that 
Shakespeare (William Shakspere) should purchase the 
tithes of Stratford." In 1605 he completed the purchase of 
"an unexpired term of these tithes." "In July, 1604, in the 
local court at Stratford he sued Philip Rogers whom he had 
supplied since the preceding March malt to the value of 
£1 19s. lod. and on June 25 lent 2s. in cash." 

In a personal record from which so much is missing we 
may justly assume that what we know of his dealings in 
Stratford forms only a small part of his activities there. 
Consequently, to the contention that this man was the 
author and directing genius of the magnificent stream of 
dramatic literature which in those very years was bursting 
upon London, the business record we have just presented 
would in almost any court in the land be deemed to have 
proved an alibi. The general character of these business 
transactions, even to such touches as lending the trifling 
sum of 2s. to a person to whom he was selling malt, is all 
suggestive of his own continuous day to day contact with 
the details of his Stratford business affairs: whilst the 
single money transaction which connects him with London 
during these years, the recovery of a debt of £7 from John 
Clayton in 1600, might easily be the result of 

The actors' ^ short visit to the metropolis, or merely the 
licenses. , . . 

work of an agent. The licenses granted m 

1603 to the company of actors in which "Shakespeare's" 

name appears would not necessitate his presence; and the 


fact that his name as it appears in these documents is spelt 
"S-h-a-k-e-s-p-e-a-r-e" (i.e. the same as in the printed editions 
of the plays), whilst this spelling is not that of his own sig- 
natures, nor of some of the important Stratford documents, 
bears out the suggestion that these matters were arranged 
by the same person as was responsible for the publication 
of the plays; although, as we have already pointed out, 
WiUiam Shakspere had no hand in that pubhcation. More- 
over, these licenses were not for immediate use, but for 
"when the plague shall decrease." As, further, his name 
occurs second, it is clear that he was not the directing head 
of the company of players. 

Whilst, then, everything about William Shakspere's 
records suggests that he was settled permanently at Strat- 
ford during the important years of the pubhcation of the 
plays, everything about the plays themselves betokens an 
author living at the time in intimate touch with the theatrical 
and literary hfe of London. So strong is the presumption 
in favour of this latter fact that no writer of any school 
has yet ventured to suggest the contrary. In attributing 
the authorship to WilHam Shakspere it has been imperative 
to assume a settled residence in London during these fate- 
ful years. The utmost that could be allowed was an oc- 
casional journey to Stratford; and this notwithstanding the 
mysteriousness of his whereabouts and doings in London, 
the fact of his always being described as "of Stratford," 
never "of London," and the large amount and special char- 
acter of his Stratford business affairs. 

If, then, William Shakspere, the reputed author of the 
works, was not sent off to Stratford to be out of the way 
at the time when the Hterary public was being interested 
in the plays, he has certainly contrived matters so as to 
make it appear that such was the case, and thus to justify 
the strongest suspicion, on this ground alone, that the 
famous dramas were not of his composing. 

It is from a consideration of the manner of publica- 
tion that Sir Sidney Lee concludes that William Shakspere 


had no part in the work. On the other hand we arrive at 
precisely the same conclusion from a consideration of the 
circumstances of his life : in the present instance on the 
grounds of what we are entitled to claim as an alibi. It is 
certainly interesting that two totally different sets of con- 
siderations should lead to precisely the same conclusion, 
although approached from two different standpoints and 
with different intentions; leaving but little room for doubt 
as to the soundness of the common conclusion. Whilst then 
we agree that William Shakspere had no hand in the pub- 
lication of this literature, to maintain that its actual author, 
if living, in no way shared in any part of the work, is the 
kind of belief which practical men in touch with life would 
hardly acknowledge without serious misgiving. 


We do not say that the alternative belief, the belief that 
is to say in a hidden author, is without difficulties. We may 

justly wonder why the author of such works 
Stratfordian should prefer to remain unknown, just as we 
mftives^^' may wonder why "Ignoto," "Shepherd Tony" 

and "A. W.", the writers of some of the best 
Elizabethan poetry, have elected to remain unknown. The 
facts are, however, incontestable realities of literary history. 
Morover, the motives for mysterious and secret courses 
are, no doubt, frequently as mysterious and secret as the 
courses themselves, so that inability to fathom motives can- 
not be put in as an argument against the evidence of a fact: 
though knowledge of a motive may be accepted as corrobo- 
rative of other evidence. Difficult as it is to penetrate and 
appreciate the private motives even of people circumstanced 
like ourselves, the difficulty is immeasurably increased when 
the entire social circumstances are different, as in the case 
before us. The man who thinks that any one living in the 
reigns of Queen Elizabeth and James I would be as proud 


to acknowledge himself the author of "Shakespeare's" 
plays as any one living in the nineteenth and twentieth cen- 
turies would be, has not understood the Shakespeare prob- 
lem in its relationship to the age to which it belongs. He 
is, moreover, judging the question largely from the point 
of view of the professional litterateur as author, and over- 
looking the numerous considerations which may arise when 
an author of a vastly difterent type is supposed. 

"It is difficult to realize," says HaUiwell-Phillipps, "a 
period when . . . the great poet, notwithstanding the im- 
mense popularity of some of his works, was held in no gen- 
eral reverence. It must be borne in mind that actors then 
occupied an inferior position in society, and that even the 
vocation of a dramatic writer mas considered scarcely 
respectable. The intelligent appreciation of genius by in- 
dividuals was not sufficient to neutralize in these matters 
the effect of public opinion and the animosity of the religious 
world; all circumstances thus uniting to banish general in- 
terest in the history of persons connected in any way with 
the stage." 

To have laid claim to the authorship of even "Shake- 
speare's" plays would therefore have been of no assistance 
to any man seeking to obtain, preserve, or recover the social 
dignity and eminence of himself and his family 

We may wonder that the secret should have been so 
well kept, and be quite unable to offer a satisfactory ex- 
planation of the complete success of the pj'eservation 
"blind," just as we may stand puzzled before of the^ 
the other mysteries of history. This again 
is a difficulty which is greatly magnified by giving it a mod- 
ern setting. In "Shakespeare's" day, however, according 
to Halliwell-Phillipps, "no interest was taken in the events 
of the lives of authors . . . non-political correspondence 
was rarely preserved, (and) elaborate diaries were not the 

The lack of Interest in the personality of authors Is 
borne out by some contemporary records of the perform- 


ance of "Shakespeare's" plays without any suggestion of 
an author's name. The educated readers of the printed 
works, interested mainly in these works as hterature, might 
well be content to know an author merely by name, espe- 
cially when that author was supposed to be living in what 
would then be a remote village. The contemporary records 
of the "Shakespeare" literature are moreover just such as 
belong to an author whose name is known but whose per- 
sonahty is not; and Shakspere would escape personal at- 
tention by taking up permanent residence in Stratford just 
at the time when this literature began to appear. 

Mystery and concerted secrecy were moreover charac- 
teristic not only of the hterary life of the times, but even 
more so of the general social and political life. Plots and 
counterplots, extreme caution and reservation in writing 
letters — men habitually writing to friends as if suspicious 
that their letters would be shown to their enemies — every 
here and there some cryptic remark which only the ad- 
dressee would be able to understand, such are the things 
that stand out from the mass of contemporary documents 
preserved in the State Papers and the various private col- 
lections. We can be quite su-re that in those times no im- 
portant secret would be imparted to any one without first 
of all receiving the most solemn assurances that no risk of 
disclosure should be run. Certainly the writer of "Ham- 
let" was not the man to neglect any precaution. The care- 
fully framed oaths by which Hamlet binds Horatio and 
Marcellus to secrecy, and the final caution he administers, 
is clearly the work of a man who knew how to ensure 
secrecy so far as it was humanly possible to do so. And 
we do know, as a matter of actual human experience, that 
when a superior intelligence is combined with what may be 
called a faculty for secrecy and a sound Instinct in judging 
and choosing agents, secret purposes are carried through 
successfully in a way that is amazing and mystifying to 
simpler minds. 

These, then, are certain difficulties of the anti-Strat- 


fordlan position which it would be folly to ignore. Most 
truths, however, have had to win their way 
in spite of difficulties. Whilst, then, difficul- ™"^'^'' 
ties do not kill truth, incredibilities are fatal Incredi- 
to error; and it is the incredible that Strat- ^ ^*^^^* 
fordianism has to face. The same general human experience 
that compels us to accept facts for which we cannot 
adequately account, compels us also to reject, on pain of 
irrationahty, what is inherently self-contradictory, or at 
complete variance with the otherwise invariable course of 
events. It is thus that the commonsense of mankind in- 
stinctively repudiates a moral contradiction as incredible. 
Such we hoFd is the belief in the Stratford man : the belief 
that the author of the finest literature lets others do just 
as they please during his own lifetime in the matter of 
publishing his works but does nothing himself. "It is 
questionable," says Sir Sidney Lee, "whether any were 
published under his supervision." He is thus represented 
as creating and casting forth his immortal works with all 
the indifference of a mere spawning process, and turning 
his attention to houses, land, malt and money at the very 
moment when the printed issue of these great triumphs of 
his own creative spirit begins. This is the fundamental 
incredibility which along with the incredible reversion rep- 
resented by Shakespere's second Stratford period, and a 
succession of other incredibilities ought to dissolve com- 
pletely the Stratfordian hypothesis, once it has become pos- 
sible to put a more reasonable hypothesis in its place. 


The only thing that can be described as a reliable per- 
sonal reference to William Shakspere in the whole course 
of his life was made in 1592 when Greene at- contem- 
tacked him as an "upstart crow," beautiful in porary 
the feathers of others. Chettle the publisher's 
subsequent apology is couched in terms which indicate 


the Intervention of highly placed and powerful patrons. 
Clearly Shakspere had behind him some friend that writers 
and publishers could not afford to Ignore. At that time 
nothing had been published under his name, his London 
career was just opening, and this, we repeat, Is the only 
thing that can be called a personal Incident In the whole of 
his London record, which according to modern Strat- 
fordlans continued for twenty years after this affair. As a 
matter of fact his own attitude In this so-called Incident 
was purely passive, Chettle's apology making no reference 
to any protest or resentment on the part of the man at- 
tacked, but solely to the "divers of worship" who had made 
representations on his behalf. After this It would appear 
that no one ventured upon personal references, good, bad, 
or Indifferent. The experience of Chettle was evidently 
a warning to others. 

Subsequently, "Venus" and "Lucrece" were published 
Q , with "Shakespeare's" name as author, and 

poet till we then get a few references to the poems, 

^^^ * such as any reader of the works might 

have penned. 

"Yet Tarquyne pluckt his glistering grape, 
And Shake-speare paints poore Lucrece rape." 

(1594. The year of the publication of "Lucrece.") 

"All praise worthy Lucrecia: Sweet Shak-speare." 


"And Shakespeare, thou whose hony flowing vaine 

Whose Venus, and whose Lucrece sweet and chaste, 
Thy name in fames immortall booke have plac't." 


This Is all that we have In the period prior to the 
actual publication of the dramas. They are self-evldently 
inspired by the poems, make no reference to the plays, and 


have nothing more to do with the man than could be learnt 
from the works: a fact to which the spelling and splitting 
up of the name "Shake-speare" bears witness. Nor have 
they anything to do with him as an actor. 

Not till we reach the year 1598, the year in which the 
first of the dramas with "Shakespeare's" name were pub- 
lished, do we meet with any contemporary 
reference to "Shakespeare" as a writer of dramatist: 
plays; by this time we are justified in sup- only after 
posing that William Shakspere was duly es- 
tablished at Stratford. Here, again, there is no personal 
reference: the name merely appearing in long lists of an- 
cient and contemporary writers with an occasional remark 
upon the quality or contents of the work published under 
their names. This work of Francis Meres — his "Palladis 
Tamia" — at the same time bears testimony to what may 
be called the high classic quality of "Shakespeare's" Eng- 
lish in the eyes of contemporary scholars, and also to 
"Shakespeare's" familiarity with the ancient classics. 

In 1599 we meet with another literary reference in 
which, in addition to "Venus" and "Lucrece," the plays of 
"Romeo" and "Richard" (II or III) are referred to. 
These plays had already been published. 

In 1600 the name again occurs in a list of over twenty 
poets of Elizabeth's reign. 

In 1604 his name appears along with Jonson's and 
Greene's in couplets calling for verses in honour of Eliza- 

Again in 1604, the year of the revised edition of Ham- 
let, the name occurs In a literary reference to this play: and 
in 1603 or 5 in another list of contemporary poets. In 
the "Returne from Pernassus" (written 1602, printed 
1606) he Is first and most particularly mentioned as the 
author of "Venus" and "Lucrece," and afterwards as one 
of those that "pen plales." 

Such Is the character of all the contemporary references 
which the industry of Halliwell-Phillipps has brought to- 


gether: references, that Is to say, of people who knew 
''Shakespeare" in print, but who have nothing to tell us 
about William Shakspere in the flesh. The single instance 
of a contemporary reference to the man, after the 1592 
affair ("The sole anecdote of Shakespeare that is positively 
known to have been recorded in his lifetime," S. L.), is a 
wretched immoral story; evidently the invention of some 
would-be wit: a story which is rightly discarded, as 
apocryphal, by most authorities on both sides of the ques- 
tion. The magnitude of this omission of real contemporary 
reference to the personality of the man can only be ap- 
preciated by those who, for any special purpose, have had 
to search into the collections of Elizabethan documents that 
have been published, or who know anything of the Immense 
amount of personal details, concerning the most unimpor- 
tant of people, preserved in our various local histories. 
Such a silence seems only explicable on the assumption that 
the utmost care was taken to keep the man out of sight. 

It has already been pointed out that none of his ac- 
tivities In Stratford has left the slightest trace of a letter 

The sil nc ^^^"^ ^^^ P^^' ^^^ same Strange feature marks 
of William his middle period In London. Again, It is not 
w. a spere. j^gj-giy preserved autograph letters which are 
conspicuously absent, but there Is a total absence of evidence, 
or even rumour, that he ever corresponded with a single 
soul. At the same time literary men of recognized in- 
feriority to "Shakespeare" were the regular correspond- 
ents of the aristocratic patrons of literature; and even 
when the actual letters are missing traces of such corre- 
spondence can be found In the literary history of the times. 
In William Shakspere's case there is not the faintest trace. 
Even Ben Jonson, separated by many miles and for many 
years from his Idol, makes no suggestion of letters having 
passed between them at any time. Nor during these years 
is there the slightest record of any of those things by which 
a genius Impresses his personality upon his contemporaries. 
Outside the printed works nothing but blank negation meets 


us whenever we seek to connect this man with any of those 
things by which eminent literary men have left incidental 
impressions of themselves upon contemporary life. As 
then we have the best authority for saying that he had 
nothing to do with the publication of the dramas — and even 
the poems which contained "Shakespeare's" dedication to 
the Earl of Southampton had no author's name on their 
title-pages — if William Shakspere were not a mere mask 
for another writer, perhaps some Stratfordian will tell us 
what else he could have done, or left undone, to make it 
appear that such was the part he was playing. 

In addition to William Shakspere's own silence we 
must not overlook the complete silence of "Shakespeare's" 
great contemporary Edmund Spenser in re- 
spect to everything Shakespearean. His ref- ^yence^*^ 
erence to "Willie" in his poem, the "Tears 
of the Muses," it is very commonly agreed nowadays, could 
not, on account of its date, have any reference to William 
Shakspere. The only possible allusion to Shakespeare which 
he makes is in 1595, in his poem "Colin Clout's Come 
Home Again." That his "Action" has anything to do with 
Shakespeare is pure conjecture, based upon the assumption 
that only "Shakespeare" could deserve the high praise 
which Spenser bestows upon the poet so designated. When, 
however, in the following lines he places Sir Philip Sidney 
first amongst the poets to whom he is alluding, we cannot 
accept "Action" as Shakespeare — that is to say, as a poet 
inferior, in Spenser's judgment, to Sidney — without dis- 
crediting Spenser's judgment. In other words, we destroy 
the very grounds upon which we originally suppose that 
"Action" is Shakespeare. In any case, the allusion is only 
to "Shakespeare" the poet^ whose poems might have 
reached Spenser ("Colin Clout") in Ireland prior to his 
coming home. If, however, we accept the date which 
Spenser himself attaches to the dedication of the poem to 
Sir Walter Raleigh, namely 1591, it is evident that 
"Aetion" could not be "William Shakspere," and could 


have no connection with the great "Shakespeare" poems, 
which were not pubHshed until 1593 and 1594. 


So much for William Shakspere the business man and 
the reputed author: we come now to the question of William 
William Shakspere the famous actor and theatre share- 

Shakspere, holder, whose wealth has been partly ac- 
counted for by reference to the revenues of 
prominent contemporary actors and actor-shareholders. In 
this connection we shall place together passages from his 
two leading biographers. 

Sir Sidney Lee : 

"It was as an actor that at an early date he acquired 
a genuinely substantial and secure income." Meanwhile he 
"was gaining great personal esteem outside the circles of 
actors and men of letters. His genius and 'civil demeanour* 
of which Chettle wrote arrested the notice not only of 
Southampton, but of other noble patrons of literature and 
the drama. His summons to act at Court with the most 
famous actors of the day at the Christmas of 1594 it'as 
possibly due in part to personal interest in himself. Eliza- 
beth quickly showed him special favour^ etc/' 

Here, then, was fame of a most exceptional character, 
hardly to be excelled by those who endure the "fierce light 
that beats upon a throne." The tax gatherers who could 
not lay their hands readily upon this man were guilty, at 
best, of culpable incapacity; and should have been sum- 
marily dismissed for deliberate connivance. Nevertheless, 
we shall see what Halliwell-Phillipps says: 

"There was not a single company of actors in Shake- 
speare's time which did not make professional visits through 
nearly all the English counties, and in the hope of dis- 
covering traces of his footsteps during his provincial tours 
I have personally examined the records of the following 


cities and towns — Warwick, Bewdley, Dover, Shrewsbury, 
Oxford, Worcester, Hereford, Gloucester, etc." And so 
he proceeds to enumerate no less than forty-six Important 
towns and cities In all parts of the country, as far north as 
Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and Including, In addition to both 
the great university cities, Stratford-upon-Avon Itself, 
whose fame throughout the world It owes to the lustre 
which "Shakespeare's" name has given It, and he concludes: 
^'In no single instance have I at present found in any 
municipal record a notice of the poet himself ; but curious 

material of an unsuspected nature respectlnor „,, t ^ 

1 • 11-1 1-1 ^^^ ^°^^ 

his company and theatrical surroundings has Chamber- 
been discovered." ^ iompany in 

Thus do the generous surmises of one the 
biographer suffer at the hands of the unkindly 
facts presented by another. In the Interval between the 
writing of the two biographies the number of "extant 
archives" examined Is Increased to "some seventy," and 
although Sir Sidney Lee passes over the salient fact that 
the later Investigations were equally without result, so far 
as discovering traces of Shakespeare's footsteps are con- 
cerned, his faith In the Stratford man gives rise to the 
poetic supposition that "Shakespeare may be credited with 
faithfully fulfilling all his professional functions, and some 
of the references to travel In his sonnets were doubtless 
reminiscences of early acting tours." The workers who 
have continued the enquiries begun by Halllwell-Phllllpps, 
In their anxiety to find such traces of Shakspere as must 
exist If he were In reality what Is claimed for him, have 
pushed their investigations as far north as Edinburgh, 
where the names of Lawrence Fletcher and one Martin are 
found In the records for 1599. Fletcher's name appears 
first, evidently as manager, of a company of actors who 
were "welcomed with enthusiasm by the King," and this 
Fletcher also heads the list of the company of actors li- 
censed In London as the King's Players by James on his 
accession to the English throne — the list In which the name 


Shakespeare Is inserted second. But there is no Shakspere 
in the Edinburgh records, nor in any of the other mu- 
nicipal archives that have been examined. The name Mar- 
tin seems otherwise quite unknown. 

The point that concerns us at present, however, is the 
fact that whilst the names of other actors of no great 
repute occur in these municipal records, the name of the 
man who is represented as enjoying almost unparalleled 
fame in his vocation — poet, dramatic author, actor and 
actor-shareholder — never appears once, although a most 
painstaking and laborious search has been made. The 
inevitable conclusion to which we are forced is that either 
he was not there or he was not a famous actor. In short, 
he was not a prominent active member of the Lord Cham- 
berlain's Company, but rather a kind of "sleeping partner" 
whose functions were quite consistent with his settled resi- 
dence at Stratford: a situation much more in accord with 
the idea of a man whose name was being used as a cloak, 
but whose personality was being carefully kept in the back- 
ground, than of one enjoying In his own person the atten- 
tions and social Intercourse which come to a distinguished 
man whom even royalty delighted to honour. 


It remains now only to examine the data upon which 

rests the theory of William Shakspere being an eminent 

„, , London actor. Neither as a wTlter of plays 

oiiHKSpcrc . 

as London for the Stage nor as an author of works tor 
actor. ^j^^ press is It possible to account for his 

wealth. In the former capacity his income would not be a 
handsome one; and In the latter capacity, seeing that he 
took no part and held no rights, he would depend upon 
good-will gratuities from publishers. As an actor, we have 
seen, no single record of his appearance in the provinces 
has been discovered. It is as a London actor, therefore, 


that he must have made his wealth, if that wealth had 
nothing mysterious about it. Here, then, are the records 
of his career. 

Halliwell-Phillipps "had the pleasure of discovering 
some years ago in the accounts of the Treasurer of the 
Chamber" the following entry: — "To Wil- 
liam Kempe, William Shakespeare and Rich- accfounts.^^ 
ard Burbage, servants to the Lord Chamber- 
lalne, upon the councelles warrant dated at Whitehall xv. to 
Marcij, 1594, for twoe several comedies or enterludes 
showed by them before her Majestle In Christmas tyme 
laste paste viz. upon St. Stephens daye and Innocentes daye 
. . . in all £20." Mrs. Stopes, however, in her work on 
"Burbage and Shakespeare," furnishes the interesting in- 
formation that this "account (was) drawn up after date by 
Mary Countess of Southampton, after the decease of her 
second husband Sir Thomas Henneage, who had left his 
accounts rather in a muddle." And Sir Sidney Lee points 
out that "neither plays nor parts are named." We may 
also point out that whereas according to the last named au- 
thority Kemp was "the chief comedian of the day and Rich- 
ard Burbage the greatest tragic actor," no record exists to 
tell us and no one has yet ventured to guess what William 
Shakspere was as an actor. Since, then, no part Is assigned 
to him in this record, it is possible, even accepting It as being 
in proper order as an official document, that he received the 
money as the supposed author of the "comedies or enter- 
ludes." And this, although occurring three years before the 
opening of the period of his fame (1597)^^ the only thing 
tJiM can he called an official record of active participation in 
the perfor77iances of the Lord Chamberlain's Co7npany, 
afterwards called the King's Players, and erroneously spok- 
en of as Shakespeare's company: the company of which he is 
supposed to have been one of the leading lights. 

The "orthodoxy" of Mrs. Stopes, like that of Halli- 
well-Phillipps, Is beyond suspicion, and she has performed 
in respect to William Shakspere's London career something 


analogous to what Halliwell-Phillipps has done for his work 
in the provuices, and with a not altogether dissimilar re- 
sult. In note xxviii. of the book just mentioned she 
records "The performances oi the Burbage Company at 
Court for 80 years"; the record consisting mainly of a 
catalogue of brief items of payments made by the Treasurer 
of the Chamber for actual performances of plays, and 
occupying seventeen pages of her work. Over four pages 
are taken up with entries referring to performances of the 
company from 1597 to the death of William Shakspere in 
1616. Separate entries occur for the years 1597, 1598, 
1599, 1600, 1601, 1603, 1604, 1605, 1606, 1607, 1608, 
1609, 1610, 1611, 1612, 1613, 1614, 1615, and 1616. It 
w^ill thus be seen that only the year 1602 is missing from 
these records. The names of the actors mentioned are 
Heminge, Burbage, Cowley, Bryan and Pope; elsewhere 
these official accounts mention the actor Augustine Phillipps, 
but not once does the name of William Shakspere occur in 
all these accounts. 

There is a danger that in multiplying evidences and 
opening up discussions on side issues the full force of some 
particular facts may be lost. We would urge, therefore, 
that the reader allow his mind to dwell at length on one 
fact, namely, that the whole of the municipal records of 
the acting companies are silent with regard to William 
Shakspere, and the whole of the Treasurer of the Cham- 
ber's records, with the one irregular exception of an account 
made up by a strange hand after d<ate, are equally silent 
respecting him : even the irregular entry referring to a date 
(1594) several years before the period of his fame; so 
that both are absolutely silent respecting him during his 
great period. If the reader still persists in believing that 
William Shakspere was a well-known figure on the stage, 
or a prominent member of the Lord Chamberlain's com- 
pany of actors, or in any way much in evidence in connec- 
tion with the doings of that company, we would respect- 


'fully suggest that his time could be more profitably spent 
than in reading the remainder of these pages. 

Following up the investigations by means of the same 
work, we find that the Lord Chamberlain's books "supply 
much information concerning plays and play- Th L d 
ers. Unfortunately they are missing for the Chamber- 
most important years of Shakespearean his- ^^"^ °° ^' 
tory!^ Twice in the course of her work does Mrs. Stopes 
refer to the unfortunate disappearance of the Lord Cham- 
berlain's books. In the light of all the other mysterious 
silences regarding William Shakspere, and the total dis- 
appearance of the "Shakespeare" manuscripts, so carefully 
guarded during the years preceding the publication of the 
First Folio, the disappearance of the Lord Chamberlain's 
books, recording the transactions of his department for 
the greatest period in its history, hardly looks like pure 
accident. More than one contemporary forgery in respect 
to Shakespeare records is admitted by most authorities, a 
well-known one being the 1611 reference to "The Tem- 
pest," so that suspicion is quite justifiable. The one volume 
of these records that has been preserved records nothing 
of any acting engagement of William Shakspere's, but 
merely his receiving, along with others, a grant of cloth in 
preparation for the coronation procession. Whilst stating 
that "many believe . . . that the players did not go on 
that procession," Mrs. Stopes argues in favour of their 
being there; but adds: "it is true the grant of cloth was 
not in itself an invitation to the coronation." It is there- 
fore no evidence that he was present. Similarly the appear- 
ance of his name in the list of members of the company 
licensed in 1603 for prospective activity as the King's play- 
ers furnishes no proof of his recognition as a prominent 
actor, and leaves us ignorant of the plays in which he may 
have participated, the roles which he performed, or the 
manner of his acting. All that we have of an official nature 
during this period are therefore two appearances of his 
name in general non-informative lists quite consistent with 


the theory that during the most Important years of what 
is supposed to have been his great London period he was 
not in constant personal touch with the business of the 

Of non-official acting records — we again give the facts 
in the words of Sir Sidney Lee — "Shakespeare's name 
Shakspere Stands first on the list of those who took part 

.and Jonson's in the original performance of Ben Jonson's 
^ ^^^* 'Every Man in his Humour'" (1598 — the 

year in which Jonson, having been imprisoned for killing 
Gabriel Spenser, was liberated, apparently as a result of 
influential intervention). "In the original edition of Jon- 
son's 'Sejanus' (1605) the actors' names are arranged in 
two columns, and Shakespeare's name heads the second col- 
umn. . . . But here again the part allotted to each actor 
is not stated." Nor is it mentioned that this list was only 
published two years after the performance (1603). 

These two appearances of his name are the only things 
that might be called records of his acting during the whole 
period of his fame; the first at its beginning, and the second, 
according to several authorities, at its close. ("There is 
no doubt he never meant to return to London except for 
business visits after 1604": National Encyclopedia). We 
know neither what parts he played nor how he played them; 
but the one thirty we do know is that they had nothing to 
do with the great '^Shakespeare" plays. There is not a 
single record during the whole of his life of his ever ap- 
pearing in a play of "Shakespeare's"; whilst the writer 
responsible for the appearance of his name in these in- 
stances is the same as lent the sanction of his name to the 
deliberate inaccuracies of the First Folio. It is worth 
while noticing that although Jonson gives a foremost place 
to the name of "Shakespeare" in these lists, when Jonson's 
"Every Man out of his Humour" was played by the Lord 
Chamberlain's company, the whole of the company, with 
one notable exception, had parts assigned to them. That 



one exception was Shakspere, who does not appear at all 
in the cast. (See the collected works of Jonson.) 

Other striking absences of William Shakspere's name 
in connection with this particular company remain to be 
noticed. The company became implicated in 

• IS/Tissinsr 

the ''Essex Rebellion," and Augustme references. 
Phillipps, one of the members, had to present 
himself for examination in connection with it. His state- 
ment, made on oath and formally attested with his signa- 
ture, involves a play of "Shakespeare's" Richard (II). 
William Shakspere himself was, however, quite out of the 
business. He was not called upon, and his name was not 
even mentioned in connection with the play, which is spoken 
of as "so old and so long out of use." 

Again in August, 1604, the company was appointed to 
attend on the Spanish Ambassador at Somerset House and 
were paid for their services; "Augustine Phillipps and John 
Hemynges for th' allowance of themselves and tenne of 
their fellows ... for the space of 18 dayes (receiving) 
£21 I2s." We again notice the absence of the name of 
one whom we have been taught to regard as the chief per- 
sonality in the company. 

The modern Stratfordian postpones Shakspere's retire- 
ment to Stratford to the year 1 61 2 or 1 613. In 161 2 the 
company was engaged in litigation, and the names of "John 
Hemings, Richard Burbage and Henry Condall" appear 
in connection with it, but there is no mention of Shakspere. 
On the installation of Prince Henry as Prince of Wales 
the services of the company were enlisted and the names of 
Anthony Munday, Richard Burbage, and John Rice occur 
in the official records, the first as writer and the last two 
as actors; but no mention is made of the great writer-actor 
William Shakspere. 

In 1 613 the Globe Theatre, the supposed scene of 
William Shakspere's great triumphs, was burnt to the 
ground, and a contemporary poet sang of the event in verses 
that commemorate Anthony Munday, Richard Burbage, 


Henry Condell, and the father of John Heminge, but with- 
out ever a backward glance at the retiring or retired Wil- 
liam Shakspere whose name has immortalized the name of 
the building. 

After such a contemporary record the appearance of 

his name, in the 1623 folio edition, seven years after his 

death, at the head of the list of "the principall 

Doubtful actors in all these plays," confirms the 

claims. r- J ^ 

bogus character of the whole of the edi- 
torial pretensions of that work. With such a send-off, 
it is remarkable that subsequent tradition has done 
so little for him. More than eighty years later 
Rowe in his Life of Shakspere (1709) assigns but one role 
to the "principall actor in all these plays" : namely the 
Ghost in Hamlet. This tradition, though quite unreliable 
— seeing that the whole body of Shakespearean tradition is 
mixed with much that is now known to be untrue — is never- 
theless interesting: for the role of the Ghost in Hamlet is 
just such as a third rate man about the theatre might have 
been trained to perform upon occasion. The discussion of 
the shifting sands of Shakespearean tradition hardly comes 
within the province of this work. It is interesting to note, 
however, that Mrs. Stopes flatly refuses to believe the body 
of Shakespeare traditions, for the very substantial reason 
that they arose at too late a period after the events. How^ 
little of solid biographical fact remains when mere tradition 
is discounted, the general reader, who sim.ply interests him- 
self in the plays, is seldom aware. 

It is possible that we may have omitted the discussion 
of some contemporary reference v/hich others might con- 
sider important. Enough, however, has been said to show 
that William Shakspere's connection with the Lord Cham- 
berlain's company was of a distinctly anomalous character. 
On the one hand there are distinct traces of an effort to 
give him a marked prominence in respect to the constitu- 
tion and operations of the company, and on the other hand 
a total absence of the inevitable concomitants of such a 


prominence. What others, using him as an instrument of 
their purposes, were able to do with his name, is done; 
what could only be brought about by the force of his own 
genius is lacking. Outside the formal lists of names no 
single contemporary that we know of records an event or 
impression of him as an actor during all the years of his 
literary fame. It may safely be said, therefore, that neither 
in the provinces nor in London did the public who were 
buying and reading "Shakespeare's" plays know much about 
William Shakspere the actor. Even the objectionable 
anecdote which represents Burbage in the dramatic role 
of Richard the Third does not imply dramatic functions of 
any kind for Shakspere, but represents him as a silent 
Hstener, not necessarily one living in the public eye : a per- 
son whom some one in the outside public might have thought 
of as implicated in the inner workings of the company. In 
the face of so pronounced a silence in respect to him, why 
should there have been these two efforts of Jonson's to 
thrust his name forward as an actor in a way which neither 
the records of the Lord Chamberlain's company nor the 
constitution of the cast for his own play "Every Man out 
of his Humour" warranted? And how does it happen, in 
view of the total silence of the records of the Lord 
Chamberlain's company during all the years, both before 
and after, that his name was inserted twice in one year 
(1603) in the business formalities of the company? In a 
word, how does it happen that we have the name occupying 
an artificial eminence in two connections and nothing else 
to correspond? The most natural answer is, of course, that 
false claims were being made for him fitting in exactly with 
the admitted false pretensions of the First Folio in which 
the same party, Ben Jonson, was implicated. In the mat- 
ter of motives, however, we again put in a plea for Jonson 
that he is entitled to the same indulgence as has been freely 
accorded to Heminge and Condell, although he probably 
was deeper in the secret than they were. 



We may now summarize the results of our examination 
of the middle or London period of William Shakspere's 

1. He was purely passive in respect to all the publica- 

tion which took place under his name. 

2. There is the greatest uncertainty respecting the 

duration of his sojourn in London and the strong- 
est probability that he was actually resident at 
Stratford whilst the plays were being published. 

3. Nothing is known of his doings in London, and there 

is much mystery concerning his place of residence 

4. After Greene's attack and Chettle's apology the 

"man" and the "actor" was ignored by con- 

5. Before the printing of the dramas began in 1598 

contemporary references were always to the poet 
— the author of "Venus" and "Lucrece" — never 
to the dramatist. 

6. Only after 1598, the date when plays were first 

printed with "Shakespeare's" name, are there any 
contemporary references to him as a dramatist. 

7. The public knew "Shakespeare" in print, but knew 

nothing of the personality of William Shakspere. 

8. The sole anecdote recorded of him is rejected by 

the general consensus of authorities, and even the 
contemporary currency of this anecdote Is con- 
sistent with the idea of his being personally un- 

9. He has left no letter or trace of personal Intercourse 

with any London contemporary or public man. 
He received no letter from any patron or literary 
man. The only letter known to have been sent 
to him was concerned solely with the borrowing 
of money. 


10. Edmund Spenser quite ignores him. 

11. Although the company with which his name is asso- 

ciated toured frequently and widely in the 
provinces, and much has been recorded of their 
doings, no municipal archive, so far as is l^nown, 
contains a single reference to him. 

12. There is no contemporary record of his ever ap- 

pearing in a "Shakespeare" play. 

13. The only plays with which as an actor his name was 

associated during his lifetime are two of Ben 
Jonson's plays. 

14. The accounts of the Treasurer of the Chamber 

show only one irregular reference to him three 
years before the period of his greatest fame, and 
none at all during or after that period. 

15. The Lord Chamberlain's Books, which would have 

furnished the fullest records of his doings during 
these years, are, like the "Shakespeare" manu- 
scripts, missing. 

16. His name is missing from the following records of 

the Lord Chamberlain's company in which other 

actors' names appear: 

( i) The cast of Jonson's "Every Man out of his 

Humour" in which all the other members 

of the company appear. 

(2) The record of proceedings respecting the 

Essex Rebellion and the company. 

(3) The company's attendance on the Spanish 

Ambassador in 1604. 

(4) The company's litigation in 1612. 

(5) The company's participation in the installa- 

tion of the Prince of Wales. 

(6) References to the burning of the Globe 

17. Even rumour assigns him only an insignificant role 
as an actor. 


We must now ask the reader to bring all these various 
considerations carefully into focus, and see them in their 
Shakspere natural relationship to one another. He 

and contem- ought to have no difficulty in realizing that so 
poranes. , , . , • , , . 

completely negative a record is altogether in- 
consistent with the career WiUiam Shakspere is supposed 
to have enjoyed. We place him above Edmund Spenser as 
a poet, yet Spenser's biography is no mere tissue of learned 
fancies and generous conjectures. We place him above 
Jonson as a writer of plays, yet Jonson's literary Hfe and 
social relationships make up a very real and tangible 
biography. We attempt to class him with Burbage as an 
actor, yet Burbage is a very living and substantial figure 
in the history of the English stage. But he, the one man 
who is supposed to have combined in a remarkable way 
the powers and vocations of all three; the contemporary 
of Spenser: the protege of the Burbages — for we are now 
told it was they who discovered and brought out Shakspere 
— the idol of Jonson, and the greatest genius that has ap- 
peared in English literature, leaves behind in all literary 
and dramatic concerns but the elusive and impalpable record 
we hav^e been considering. 

The genial spirit of Spenser kept pouring itself out 
in verse until crushing disaster came upon him, and death 
approached: his last verses indeed seem to have been writ- 
ten with death before his eyes. To the end Ben Jonson 
kept writing and publishing: his last and posthumous work 
being the expression of his latest thoughts. The central 
figure on the English stage at the time when Richard Bur- 
bage died was Burbage himself. But William Shakspere, 
possessed of a genius so compelling as to have raised him 
from a level quite below his literary contemporaries to a 
height far above them, abandons his vocation at the age 
of forty, retires to the uncultured atmosphere of Stratford, 
devotes his powers to land, houses, malt and money, leaving 
unfinished literary masterpieces in the hands of actors and 
theatre managers to be finished by the pens of strangers; 


ultimately dying in affluence but in total dissociation from 
everything that has made his name famous. 

Had the work attributed to him been merely average 
literature, his record, once grasped in its ensemble^ would 
have justified the strongest doubts as to the genuineness of 
his claims. Being what it is, however, the unique character 
of the work, and the record, equally unique but opposite 
in character, justifies the complete rejection of his preten- 
sions. To borrow Emerson's metaphor on the subject, we 
"cannot marry" the life record to the literature. We are 
compelled, therefore, to make a very clear separation be- 
tween the writer "Shakespeare" and the man William 
Shakspere. As soon as this is done we are able to co- 
ordinate this middle period of the life of William Shakspere 
with the two extremes we have previously considered. We 
thus arrive at the conception of a man of very ordinary 
powers and humble purposes, the three parts of whose 
career become perfectly homogeneous. In the place of the 
tremendous mass of Stratfordian incongruities and impos- 
sibilities we get a sane and consistent idea of a man in 
natural relationship with human experience and normal 
probabilities — a man who played a part and had his re- 
ward. His motives were no doubt like those of the aver- 
age amongst us, a mixture of high and low; and, seeing that 
no one else was being injured by the subterfuge, he might, 
if he were capable of apprizing the work justly, have felt 
honoured in being trusted by "Shakespeare" in furthering 
his literary purposes. But that he was himself the author 
of the great poems and dramas stands altogether outside 
the region of natural probabilities, and he must now yield 
for the adornment of a worthier brow the laurels he has 
worn so long. 


Character of the Problem 

The three greatest names in the world's literature are 
those of Homer, Dante and Shakespeare. The first be- 
longs to the ancient world and the personality 
mys°ery^^ behind the name is lost beyond recall in the 

perished records of a remote antiquity. The 
two last belong to the modern world. The former of these 
belongs to Italy; and Italy is quite certain of the per- 
sonality and cherishes every ascertained detail in the rec- 
ords of her most illustrious son. The last of the three — 
and who will venture to say it is not the greatest of all ? — 
belongs to England, and although nearer to us than Dante 
by three hundred years, the personality behind the name is 
to-day as problematic as that of Homer; his identity being 
a matter of dispute amongst men whose capacity and calm- 
ness of judgment are unquestionable. 

The inquiry into the authorship of the Shakespeare 
plays has therefore long since earned a clear title to be 
regarded as something more than a crank problem to be 
classed with such vagaries as the "flat-earth theory" or 
surmises respecting the "inhabitants of Mars." It is com- 
mon in serious works on Elizabethan literature to take 
cognisance of the problem, thus making the authorship an 
open question still awaiting a decisive answer; and every 
theory advanced in regard to it either Implies or afl^rms the 
mysterlousness of the whole business. Those who main- 

* Note. — The work as originally written begins here. Only a few slight 
verbal adjustments to the preceding pages have been possible. 



tain the orthodox view, that the plays and poems were 
written by the Stratford citizen, William Shakspere, are 
obliged to recognize the fact that a writer, the whole of 
whose circumstances and antecedents rendered the produc- 
tion of such a work as the Shakespeare plays one of the 
most extraordinary feats recorded in history, and who with 
the intelligence attributed to him must have seen that this 
would eventually raise doubts as to the genuineness of his 
claims, deliberately reduced to a minimum all that kind of 
evidence which might have placed his title beyond question. 
For, as we have seen, neither that part of his life prior to 
his appearance in the London theatre, nor that subsequent 
to his retirement from the stage, nor a single word in his 
will, shows any mark of those dominating literary interests 
to which the writings bear witness. In a word, though 
willing to enjoy the honour, and, maybe, the pecuniary ad- 
vantages of authorship, he must have actually gone out of 
his way to remove the normal traces of his literary pursuits; 
in this way casting about the production of his plays that 
kind of obscurity which belongs to anonymous rather than 
to acknowledged authorship. 

Probably one of the most significant facts connected 
with this paucity of personal literary details, upon which 
we have so much insisted, has been the issue in modern 
times of literary series without volumes on Shakespeare. 
The original issue of "English Men of Letters," including 
Elizabethan writers, like Spenser and Sidney, appeared 
without a volume on the greatest of all. The omission con- 
tinued through later editions, and was only made good at 
the extreme end of the series with the apparent purpose of 
removing an anomaly; adding to the series thereby, how- 
ever, a most valuable work upon the Shakespeare literature, 
which yet admits frankly the meagreness of the material 
available for a real literary biography. In addition to this 
the long list of the "Great Writer" series is still without 
its volume on England's greatest writer. The explanation 
of all this seems to lie in the uncertainty of everything con- 


necting the Shakespeare literature with the personality be- 
hind it; thus exposing such scholarly works as Sir Sidney 
Lee's "Life of William Shakespeare" to criticism on the 
grounds of the supposititious character of much of the 
biographical details. 

Whilst then the view^ of authorship hitherto current im- 
plies its mysteriousness, those who oppose that view postu- 
late thereby an uncertain authorship. All therefore must 
agree that the whole business is a profound mystery. Only 
the Shakespeare tyro believes nowadays that William 
Shakspere's credentials stand on the same plane with those 
of Dante and Milton; and only the too old or too young 
are disposed to represent the sceptics as cranks and fanatics. 
Our last chapter has but outlined the arguments by which 
we claim the incredibility of the old belief has been estab- 
lished; other points will arise in the course of our discus- 
sion. What we do now is to assume an undecided author- 
ship and attempt to lift the veil from this, the most stupen- 
dous mystery in the history of the world's literature. 

The objection, though not so frequently raised as 

formerly, is still occasionally met with, that the enquiry is 

unnecessary; that the great dramatic master- 

A solution pieces stand there, that we cannot be deprived 
required. ^ ' . ^ 

of them, and that such bemg the case all we 

need to do is to say that the name "Shakespeare" stands for 
their writer, whoever he may have been, and that there the 
matter may be allowed to rest. Such indifference to the per- 
sonality of the author is usually, however, but the counter- 
part to an indifference to the writings themselves. Those 
who appreciate some great good that they have received 
cannot remain indifferent to the personality of the one to 
whose labours they owe it. Such an attitude, moreover, 
would be unjust and ungrateful to the memory of our 
benefactors. And if it be urged that "Shakespeare" in 
leaving things as he did, showed that he wished to remain 
unknown, there is still the possibility that arrangements 
were made for ultimately disclosing his identity to posterity. 


and that these arrangements have miscarried. Again, it is 
one thing for a benefactor of mankind to wish to remain 
unknown, it is quite another matter for others to acquiesce 
in this self-effacement. Then there is the possibility that 
the writer's effort to obhterate the memory of himself may 
not have succeeded, and that there may be current an in- 
complete, distorted and unjust conception of him, which can 
only be rectified by establishing his position as the author 
of the world's greatest dramas. 

The discovery of the author and the establishing of his 
just claims to honour is therefore a duty which mankind 
owes to one of the most illustrious of men; a duty from 
which Englishmen, at any rate, can never be absolved, if 
by any means the task can be accomplished. He is the one 
Englishman of whom it can be most truly said that he be- 
longs to the world; and in any Pantheon of Humanity that 
may one day be set up he is the one of our countrymen who 
is already assured of an eternal place. England's negligence 
to put his identity beyond question would therefore be a 
grave derehction of national duty if by any means his 
identity could be fully estabhshed. 

Accepting the duty thus laid upon us, our first task 
must be to define precisely the character of the problem 
that confronts us. Briefly it is this. We have ^^^^^^^ 
before us a piece of human work of the most defined, 
exceptional character, and the problem is to 
find the man who did it. Thus defined, it is not, as we have 
already remarked, strictly speaking a Uterary problem. 
Those who enter upon the search must obtain much of their 
data from Uterary men; they must rest a substantial part 
of their case upon the authority of Uterary men; and they 
must, in the long run, submit the result of their labours 
very largely to the judgment of Uterary men. But the most 
expert in literature may be unfitted for prosecuting such an 
investigation, whilst a mind constituted for this kind of 
enquiry may have had only an inferior preparation so far 
as purely Uterary matters are concerned. 


It Is the kind of enquiry with which lawyers and juries 
are faced every day. They are called upon to examine 
questions Involving highly technical matters with which they 
are not themselves conversant. Their method Is naturally 
to separate what belongs to the specialist from what Is 
matter of common sense and simple judgment; to rely upon 
the expert In purely technical matters, and to use their 
own discrimination In the sifting of evidence, at the same 
time allowing Its full weight to any particular knowledge 
they may chance to possess In those things that pertain spe- 
cially to the expert's domain. This Is the course proper 
to the Investigation before us. The question, for example, 
of what Is, or Is not Shakespearean; what are the dis- 
tinguishing characteristics of Shakespeare's work; what 
were Its relationships to contemporary literature; between 
what dates the plays appeared; when the various editions 
were published, are matters which may be left. In a general 
way, to the experts. As, however, there Is a considerable 
amount of disagreement amongst the specialists (and even 
a consensus of expert opinion may sometimes be at fault) : 
where It Is necessary to differ from the experts — a thing 
which Is more or less inevitable In the breaking of entirely 
new ground, and especially in presenting a new and potent 
factor — such differences ought to be clearly indicated and 
adequately discussed. Nevertheless the cumulative effect 
of all the evidence gathered together ought to be of such 
convincing weight as to be In a measure Independent of 
such personal differences, and Indeed strong enough to sus- 
tain an unavoidable admixture of errors and slips In mat- 
ters of detail. 

Our task being to discover the author of what is 
acknowledged generally to be Shakespeare's work, the ex- 
ceptional character of that work ought, under 
speare's" normal conditions, to facilitate the enquiry. 

self-efface- Xhe more commonplace a piece of work may 
ment. , . ^ 

be the greater must be the proportion or men 

capable of doing It, and the greater the difficulty undef* 


ordinary circumstances of placing one's hand on the man 
who did It. The more distinctive the work the more Hmited 
becomes the number of men capable of performing it, and 
the easier ought it, therefore, to be to discover Its author. 
In this case, however, the work Is of so unusual a character 
that every competent judge would say that the man who 
actually did It was the only man living at the time who was 
capable of doing It. 

Notwithstanding this fact, after three hundred years 
the authorship seems more uncertain to-day than at any 
previous time. The natural inference Is that special 
obstacles have Intentionally and most carefully been laid 
in the way of the discovery. There Is no mere accident 
in the obscurity which hangs round the authorship, and the 
very greatness of the work Itself Is a testimony to the 
thoroughness of the steps taken to avoid disclosure. This 
fact must be borne In mind throughout the enquiry. It is 
not merely a question of finding out the man who did a 
piece of work, but of circumventing a scheme of self-con- 
cealment devised by one of the most capable of intellects. 
We must not expect, therefore, to find that such a man, 
taking such a course, has somewhere or other gone back 
childishly upon his intentions, and purposely placed in his 
works some Indications of his Identity, in the form of a 
cryptogram or other device. If the concealment were In- 
tended to be temporary it would hardly be within the works 
themselves or in any document published at the same time 
that the disclosure would be made. 

As it is not from Intentional self-disclosure that we 

should expect to discover the author, but from more or less 

unconscious indications of himself In the Qgnius 

writings. It Is necessary to guard at the outset and the 

, . . -1 -I'.' problem, 

agamst certam theories as to the possibilities 

of genius which tend to vitiate all reasoning upon the sub- 
ject. Upon hardly any other literary topic has so much 
that Is misleading been written. There Is a frequent as- 
sumption that the possession of what we call genius renders 


its owner capable of doing almost anything. Now William 
Shakspere is the one stock illustration of this contention. 
In all other cases, where the whole of the circumstances 
are well known, we may connect the achievements of a 
genius with what may be called the external accidents of 
his life. Though social environment is not the source of 
genius, it certainly has always determined the forms in 
which the faculty has clothed itself, and even the particular 
direction which its energies have taken: and in no other 
class of work are the products of genius so moulded by so- 
cial pressure, and even by class relationships, as in works 
Involving the artistic use of the mother tongue. To what 
extent the possession of abnormal powers may enable a 
man to triumph over circumstances no one can say; and if 
a given mind working under specified conditions is actually 
proved to have produced something totally unexpected and 
at variance with the conditions, we can only accept the 
phenomenon, however inexplicable it may appear. It is 
not thus, however, that genius usually manifests itself; and, 
failing conclusive proof, a vast disparity or incompatibility 
between the man and the work must always justify a meas- 
ure of doubt as to the genuineness of his pretensions and 
make us cast about for a more likely agent. 

Now no one is likely ev^er to question the reality or the 
vastness of "Shakespeare's" genius. If he had enjoyed 
every advantage of education, travel, leisure, social position 
and wealth, his plays would still remain for all time the 
testimony to his marvellous powers : though naturally not 
such stupendous powers as would have been required to 
produce the same results without the advantages. Conse- 
quently, If we regard the authorship as an open question 
we shall be much more disposed to look for the author 
amongst those who possessed some or all of those ad- 
vantages than amongst those who possessed none of them. 
That is to say, we must go about the task of searching 
for the author in precisely the same way as we should 
§eek for a man who had done some ordinary piece of work, 


and not complicate the problem by the introduction of such 
incommensurables as are implied in current theories of 

If we find that a man knows a thing we must assume 
that he had it to learn. If he handles his knowledge readily 
and appropriately we must assume an intimacy -^ ^.^ 
born of an habitual interest, woven into the and master- 
texture of his mind. If he shows himself P^^^^^* 
skilful in doing something we must assume that he attained 
his skill by practice. And therefore, if he first comes be- 
fore the world with a masterpiece in any art, exhibiting 
an easy familiarity with the technique of the craft and a 
large fund of precise information in any department, we 
may conclude that preceding all this there must have lain 
years of secret preparation, during which he was accumulat- 
ing knowledge, and by practice in his art, gaining skill and 
strength for the decisive plunge; storing up, elaborating and 
perfecting his productions so as to make them in some de- 
gree worthy of that ideal which ever haunts the imagination 
of the supreme artist. 

Most of the other poets differ from Shakespeare in that 
they furnish us with collections of their juvenile productions 
in which, though often enough poor stuff, we may trace the 
promise of their maturer genius. Apart from this value, 
much of it is hardly entitled to immortality. Amongst the 
work of Shakespeare the authorities, however, ascribe 
priority in time to "Love's Labour's Lost;" and what Eng- 
lishman that knows his Shakespeare would care to part 
with this work? We could easily mention quite a number 
of Shakespearean plays of even high rank that would more 
willingly be parted with than this one. It would, however, 
be perfectly gratuitous to argue that this work is a master- 

Masterpieces, however, are the fruits of matured pow- 
ers. Dante was over fifty years of age before he finished 
his immortal work; Milton about fifty-five when he com- 
pleted "Paradise Lost." Quite a long list might be made 


out illustrating this principle in works of even the second 
order; Cervantes at sixty producing "Don Quixote," Scott 
at forty-three giving us the first of the Waverley Novels, 
Defoe at fifty-eight publishing "Robinson Crusoe"; Field- 
ing at forty-two giving "Tom Jones," and Manzoni at forty 
"I Promessi Sposi." Or, if we turn to Shakespeare's own 
domain, the drama, we find that Moliere, after a lifetime 
of dramatic enthusiasm and production, gave forth his 
masterpieces between the ages of forty and fifty, his great- 
est work "Tartuife" appearing just at the middle of that 
period (age forty-five), whilst Goethe's "Faust" was the 
outcome of a long literary lifetime. Its final touches being 
given only a few months before his death at the age of 

Drama, In Its supreme manifestation, that Is to say as 
a capable and artistic exposition of our many-sided human 
nature and not mere "Inexplicable dumb-shows and noise," 
is an art in which, more than In others, mere precocity of 
talent will not suflice for the creation of masterpieces. In 
this case genius must be supplemented by a wide and intense 
experience of life and much practice in the technical work 
of staging plays. Poetic geniuses who have not had this 
experience, and have cast their work In dramatic form, may 
have produced great literature, but not great dramas. Yet, 
with such a general experience as these few facts Illustrate, 
we are asked to believe that a young man — William Shak- 
spere was but twenty-six in the year 1590, which marks 
roughly the beginning of the Shakespearean period — began 
his career with the composition of masterpieces without any 
apparent preparation, and kept pouring out plays spontane- 
ously at a most amazing rate. He appears before us at 
the age of twenty-nine as the author of a superb poem of no 
less than twelve hundred lines, and leaves no trace of those 
slight youthful effusions by means of which a poet learns 
his art and develops his powers. If, however, we can dis- 
abuse our minds of fantastic notions of genius, regard the 
Shakespearean dramas as anonymous, and look at them 


with the eyes of common sense, we shall be Inclined rather 
to view the outpouring of dramas from the year 1590 
onwards as the work of a more matured man, who had had 
the requisite intellectual and dramatic preparation, and who 
was elaborating, finishing off and letting loose a flood of 
dramas that he had been accumulating and working at 
during many preceding years. 

When in 1855 Walt Whitman gave to the world his 
''Leaves of Grass," Emerson greeted the work and its 
writer in these words: 'T find it the most extraordinary 
piece of wit and wisdom that America has yet contributed 
... I greet you at the beginning of a great career, which 
yet must have had a long foreground somewhere!' This 
concluding surmise was merely common sense, and, as the 
world now knows, perfectly true. What is wanted is to 
apply the same principle and the same common sense to 
work of a higher order, and to recognize that if by the 
year 1592, by which time we are assured that the stream 
of Shakespearean drama was in full flood, Shakespeare was 
manifesting an exceptional facility in the production of 
works that were at once great literature and great stage 
plays, there had been "a long foreground somewhere." 

The considerations we have been urging in this chapter 
are necessary for getting the problem into its right per- 
spective and on the same plane of vision as ^ ^^^^^^ 
the other problems and interests of life. We problem, 
must free the problem from illogical entangle- 
ments and miraculous assumptions, and look for scientific 
relationship between cause and effect. This must be the first 
step towards its solution. It may appear, however, that 
if it is simply a question of searching for a particular man, 
according to the same methods which we would employ 
in any other case, that the man should have been discovered 
long before now, if the material for his discovery were 
really available; and that as he has not been discovered 
after three hundred years the necessary data do not exist, 
and his identity must remain for ever a mystery. It must 


not be forgotten, however, that "Shakespeare" had to wait 
until the Nineteenth Century for his full literary apprecia- 
tion; and this was essential to the mere raising of the prob- 
lem. "Not until two centuries had passed after his death," 
says Emerson, "did any criticism which we think adequate 
begin to appear." Recognition he had, no doubt, in abun- 
dance before that time. But that exact and critical apprecia- 
tion which made it possible to distinguish the characteristics 
of his work; and begin to separate true Shakespearean 
work from spurious; that enabled a Shakespearean au- 
thority to condemn "Titus Andronicus" as "repulsive bal- 
derdash"; which has enabled us to say of "Timon of 
Athens" that it contains but "a fragment from the master 
hand"; that "Pericles" is "mainly from other hands" than 
Shakespeare's; that "Henry VIII" was completed by 
Fletcher; all this belongs to the last hundred years, and 
has only been preparing the way for raising the question 
of Shakespeare's identity. 

Even up to the present day the problem has hardly 
passed definitely beyond the negative or sceptical stage of 
doubting what is called the Stratfordian view, the work of 
Sir George Greenwood being the first milestone in the 
process of scientific research. The Baconian view, though 
it has helped to popularize the negative side, and to bring 
into prominence certain contents of Shakespeare's works, 
has done little for the positive aspect except to institute 
a misleading method of enquiry: a kind of pick-and-try 
process, leading to quite a number of rival candidates for 
Shakespeare honours, and setting up an inferior form of 
Shakespearean investigation, the "cryptogram." Amongst 
all the literature on the subject, we have so far been able 
to discover no attempt, starting from an assumed anonymity 
of the plays, to institute a systematic search for the author. 
Yet surely this is the point towards which the modern move- 
ment of Shakespearean study has been tending; and once 
instituted it must continue until either the author is dis- 
covered or the attempt abandoned as hopeless. 



Method of Solution 

Failing the discovery of some new and sensational docu- 
mentary evidence, if any headway is to be made towards 
the solution of the problem it must result very largely from 
the inauguration of new methods of investigation. Even 
when these lead to conclusions which have ultimtaely to be 
abandoned they give cohesion and definite direction to the 
efforts that are made, and thus assist in clearing up the 
situation, suggesting new methods, and preparing the way 
for more reliable conclusions. 

The writings in question not having been produced in 
some distant country or in a remote age, but here, in Eng- 
land, in an age so near as to have transmitted to us masses 
of details relating to most unimportant individuals, and yet 
so little advance having, as yet, been made in the direction 
of either solving the Shakespeare problem or of pronounc- 
ing it insoluble, confirms the impression that, in addition 
to the mystery purposely thrown over the authorship, the 
investigation has not yet been prosecuted on right lines. 
Prepossessions of one kind or another have stood in the 
way of sounder methods; for people who spend themselves 
in glorifying every new detail discovered about the Stratford 
man, or who lose themselves in the labyrinths of Baconian 
cryptograms, can hardly be expected to assume the im- 
partiality necessary for the invention of new and reliable 
instruments of enquiry. The clearing out of all this im- 
pedimenta is therefore the first essential condition of any 
real progress. 

Ridding the mind of all such personal prepossessions, 
we must now make a beginning from some hitherto untried 
standpoint. The standpoint adopted at the outset of these 
researches, and already indicated, was to assume the com- 
plete anonymity of the writings, and to apply to the search 


for the author just those ordinary methods which we should 
have had to apply if it had been some practical question 
involving important issues of life and conduct. 

What then is the usual common-sense method of search- 
ing for an unknown man who has performed some particu- 
lar piece of work? It is simply to examine closely the work 
itself, to draw from the examination as definite a concep- 
tion as possible of the man who did it, to form some idea 
of where he would be likely to be found, and then to go 
and look for a man who answers to the supposed descrip- 
tion. When some such man has been found we next pro- 
ceed to gather together all the particulars that might in 
any way connect him with the work in question. We rely, 
in such cases, very largely upon what is called circumstantial 
evidence; mistakenly supposed by some to be evidence of 
an Inferior order, but in practice the most reliable form 
of proof we have. Such evidence may at first be of the 
most shadowy description; but as we proceed in the work 
of gathering together facts and reducing them to order, 
as we hazard our guesses and weigh probabilities, as we 
subject our theories to all available tests, we find that the 
case at last either breaks down or becomes confirmed by 
such an accumulation of support that doubt is no longer 
possible. The predominating element in what w^e call cir- 
cumstantial evidence is that of coincidences. A few coinci- 
dences we may treat as simply interesting; a number of 
coincidences we regard as remarkable; a vast accumulation 
of extraordinary coincidences we accept as conclusive proof. 
And when the case has reached this stage we look upon 
the matter as finally settled, until, as may happen, some- 
thing of a most unusual character appears to upset all our 
reasoning. If nothing of this kind ever appears, whilst 
every newly discovered fact adds but confirmation to the 
conclusion, that conclusion is accepted as a permanently 
established truth. 

The above is an epitome of the method of research 
and the line of argument we have followed. In reviewing 


the work done the critic may disagree with one or other 
of the points on which we have insisted; he may regard 
this or that argument as trifling or insufficient in itself, and 
it is possible we should agree with many of the several 
objections he might raise. It may even transpire that, not- 
withstanding all our efforts to ensure accuracy, we have 
fallen into serious mistakes not only in minor details but 
even upon important points: a danger to which the wan- 
derer into unwonted fields is specially liable. It is not, 
however, upon any point separately, but upon the manner in 
which all fit in with one another, and form a coherent whole, 
that the case rests; and it is this that we desire should be 
kept In mind. We proceed, therefore, to present a short 
statement of the details of the method of enquiry, outlining 
its several stages as determined prior to entering on the 

1. As a first step it would be necessary to examine the 
works of Shakespeare, almost as though they had appeared 
for the first time, unassociated with the name or personality 
of any writer; and from such an examination draw what 
inferences we could as to his character and circumstances. 
The various features of these would have to be duly tabu- 
lated, the statement so arrived at forming the groundwork 
of all subsequent investigation. 

2. The second step would be to select from amongst 
the various characteristics some one outstanding feature 
which might serve best as a guide in proceeding to search 
for the author, by furnishing some paramount criterion, 
and at the same time indicating In some measure where the 
author was to be looked for. 

3. With this instrument In our hands the third step 
would be to proceed to the great task of searching for the 

4. In the event of discovering any man who should 
adequately fulfil the prime condition, the fourth step would 
be to test the selection by reference to the various features 
In the original characterization; and. In the event of his 


failing in a marked degree to meet essential conditions, it 
would be necessary to reject this first selection and resume 
the search. 

5. Supposing the discovery of some man who should 
in a general way have passed successfully through this 
crucial test, the rtext step would be to reverse the whole 
process. Having worked from Shakespeare's writings to 
the man, we should then begin with the man; taking new 
and outstanding facts about his performances and per- 
sonality, we should have to enquire to what extent these 
were reflected in Shakespeare's works. 

6. Then, in the event of the enquiry yielding satisfac- 
tory results up to this point w^e should next have to accumu- 
late corroborative evidence and apply tests arising out of 
the course of the investigation. 

7. The final step would be to develop as far as possible 
any traces of a personal connection between the newly 
accredited and the formerly reputed authors of the works. 

This, then, was the method outlined at the start, and, 
in the main, adhered to throughout the investigations we 
are about to describe : one which might be justly styled a 
coldly analytical process, quite at variance with literary 
traditions and the synthetic soul of poetry but which, it 
appeared, was the method proper to the case. The danger 
of the plan was, not that we might have too many claim- 
ants for the honour, but that its severity might cause us 
to pass over the very man for whom we were looking, sup- 
posing his name and personality were really accessible to 
us. At any rate, it avoided the random picking first of one 
man and then of another in the hope of alighting eventually 
on the right one: after the manner of certain other in- 

Supposing, and it is a perfectly reasonable possibility, 
that every other trace of the writer has been effectually 
destroyed beyond what we have in Shakespeare's work, 
then, of course, the enquiry must in the end prove futile; 
for any false selection would almost certainly break down 


under the various tests, leaving an altogether negative re- 
sult for our efforts. In the event of anything like a really 
good case being made out for any man there seemed a 
chance that other investigators with more leisure, greater 
resources, and a readier access to necessary documents than 
the present writer possesses, might be led to more important 

Opinions may differ as to the soundness or appropriate- 
ness of the course outlined; but, as it is the result of re- 
searches pursued in accordance with it that we are about 
to describe, it was necessary to lay bare the method at 
the outset, however crude or commonplace it may appear 
for so lofty a theme. 


The Author — Some General Features 

The first task — following the course just outlined — must 
be to form, from a general survey of the position as a 
whole, and from a review of the contents of the writings, 
some conception of the outstanding characteristics of the 
author. This should include some legitimate surmises as 
to what we might expect to be the conditions of his life, 
and the relationship of his contemporaries towards him. 

Although we are obliged, from the nature of our prob- 
lem, to assume that his contemporaries generally were not 
aware of his producing the great works, It 
nized genius, Is hardly probable that one endowed with so 

^^^ . commanding a genius should have been able 

mysterious. *^ *^ 

to conceal the greatness of his powers wholly 
from those with whom he habitually associated; and there- 
fore we may reasonably expect to find him a man of 
recognized and recorded genius. At the same time the 
mysterlousness In which he has chosen to Involve the pro- 
duction of his works ought not to have escaped the observa- 
tion of others. Consequently we may suppose that he 
would appear to many of the people about him something 
of the enigma he has proved to posterity. We must not 
look, however, for an exact representation of actual facts 
in any recorded Impressions of the personality and actions 
of the man. Between what contemporary records represent 
him as being, and what he really was, we ought. Indeed, to 
be prepared to find some striking discrepancies: the Im- 
portant thing Is that there must be some notable agree- 
ment in essentials. Certain discordances may, however, be- 



come Important evidence in his favour. For example, a 
man who has produced so large an amount of work of 
the highest quality, and was not seen doing it, must have 
passed a considerable part of his life in what would ap- 
pear to others like doing nothing of any consequence. The 
record of a wasted genius is, therefore, what we might 
reasonably look for in any contemporary account of him. 
Again, unless some special reasons should appear to 
account for his self-effacement we are bound to recognize 
that the whole manner of his anonymity 
marks the writer as being, in a manner, some- eccentricity 
thing of an eccentric: his nature, or his cir- 
cumstances, or probably both, were not normal. And, when 
the indications of his intense impressionability are con- 
sidered, along with his peculiar power of entering into and 
reflecting vividly the varied moods, fierce passions and 
subtle movements of man's mind and heart, when the 
magnitude of his creative efforts is weighed, and account 
taken of the mental exhaustion which frequently follows 
from such efforts, we may even suppose that he was not 
altogether immune from the penalties that have sometimes 
accompanied such powers and performances. Altogether 
we may say his poetic temperament and the exuberance of 
his poetic fancy mark him as a man much more akin men- 
tally to Byron or Shelley than to the placid Shakespeare sug- 
gested by the Stratford tradition. Add to this his marvel- 
lous insight into human nature, revealing to him, as it 
must have done, such springs and motives of human actions 
as would be hidden from his associates, and we may 
naturally expect to find him giving vent to himself in acts 
and words which must have seemed extraordinary and in- 
explicable to other men : for the man who sees most deeply 
into the inner workings of the human mind must often act 
upon knowledge of which he may not speak. It ought not, 
therefore, to surprise us if his contemporaries found him, 
not merely eccentric in his bearing, as they have frequently 
found the genius whom they could not understand, but even 


on occasion, guilty of what seemed to them V'agaries of a 
pronounced type. 

The possession of abnormal powers, and a highly strung 
temperament like that of Byron or of Shelley, Interposes a 
barrier between a man and his social environ- 
apart, and ment. The mediocrity, and what seems like 

unconven- ^he Insensibility of the average people about 

tional. , . , . . \ . . . ^ \,. ^ 

him, place him in an irritating milieu, against 

which he tends to protect himself by a mannerism, some- 
times merely cold and aloof, at times even repellent or 
defiant. To be a general social favourite a man needs to 
combine with personal graces a certain average of intellect 
and sensibility, which assimilates him to the generality of 
the people about him. The poetic genius has always, there- 
fore, been more or less a man apart, whose very aloofness 
is provocative of hostility in smaller men. Towards these 
he tries to assume a mask, often most difficult to penetrate 
but which, once pierced, may necessitate a complete re- 
versal of former judgments — one of the most difficult things 
to accomplish once such judgment has passed beyond mere 
Individual opinion, and has taken firm root in the social 

We venture to say that, whatever course the discussion 
may take, either now or in a distant future, one of the 

most serious hindrances to the formation of 
^Feriority correct views will be the necessity of reversing 

judgments that have had a long standing 
social sanction. We shall first have to dissociate from 
the writings the conception of such an author as the steady, 
complacent, business-like man-of-the-world, suggested^ by 
the Stratford Shakspere. Then there will be the more 
arduous task of raising to a most exalted position the name 
and personality possibly of some obscure man hitherto re- 
garded as quite unequal to the work with which he is at 
last to be credited. And this will further compel us to 
re-read our greatest national classics from a totally new 
personal standpoint. The work In question being the high- 


est literary product of the age, it cannot be otherwise than 
that the author, whoever he may have been, when he is 
discovered must seem in some measure below the require- 
ments of the situation; unequal, that is, to the production 
of such work. We shall therefore be called upon in his 
case radically to modify and correct a judgment of three 
hundred years' standing. 

Although apparently unequal to the full measure of 
Shakespeare's capacity, there is a natural limit to such 
allowable inferiority in appearance. It might, 
in a given instance, be so great as to make ^^ ^^ ^^ 

it absurd to entertain the thought of connect- literary 

ing the man with the work. His writings be- 
ing masterpieces of English literature, and all the world's 
literary masterpieces having been produced by men who 
wrote in their mother-tongue of matters in which they were 
keenly interested, and to whom writing, or more properly 
speaking the mental occupation of composing, has been a 
master passion, we are entitled to require in the person put 
forward as the author a body of credentials corresponding 
to the character of the work. That is to say, we are bound 
to assume that the writer was an Englishman with dominat- 
ing literary tastes, to whom the classical literature of the 
world, the history of England during the period of the 
Lancastrians and Yorkists, and Italian literature, which 
form the staple materials of his work, were matters of 
absorbing interest, furnishing the milieu in which his mind 
habitually worked. To think of him as one who made an 
excursion into literature in order to win a competency for 
himself, and who retired from literary pursuits when that 
purpose had been served, is to contradict everything that is 
known of the production of such masterpieces. Other in- 
terests he may have had, just as men who were chiefly occu- 
pied with social and political affairs, dabbled also in litera- 
ture, poetry, or the drama ; but what to them was a mere 
hobby or pastime would be to him a central and consuming 
purpose. Unless, then, we are to recast all our ideas of 


how the great things of literature have been achieved, we 
cannot think of him otherwise than as one who had been 
swept by the irresistible force of his own genius into the 
strong literary current of his times. The fact that he was 
himself busy producing such works, he may have hidden 
from the men of his day, but it is inconceivable that he 
should have hidden from them where his chief interest lay. 
Again, the great mass of the literature he has given to 
the world being in the form of dramas, we may repeat in 

relation to this particular class of work what 
tedraml"^ has already been said of literature generally: 

namely, that an intense, even passionate de- 
votion to the special form of art in which his masterpieces 
are produced is invariably characteristic of a genius. And 
although, again, this writer's absorption may have been 
partially concealed, it is hardly possible that it could have 
been wholly so. We are entitled, therefore, to expect that 
"Shakespeare" appeared to his contemporaries as a man 
over whom the theatre and all that pertained to play-acting 
exercised an irresistible fascination. 

Carlyle treats of this matter as though play-writing 
were but an incidental element in "Shakespeare's" work: 
almost an accident of circumstances, arising out of the 
material necessities of life. He "had to write for the 
Globe Playhouse: his great soul had to crush itself, as it 
could, into that and no other mould" — the particular mould 
in which he worked having evidently no necessary connec- 
tion with his distinctive genius. For what perversions of 
fundamental truths has not the orthodox view of the author- 
ship been responsible! The world's greatest productions 
in a given art coming from a man to whom the art and its 
essential accessories furnished but an uncongenial medium 
of expression! His special domain chosen for him, not by 
the force of his peculiar genius, but by the need for money! 
if this proved true, the plays of Shakespeare would, from 
that point of view alone, probably remain for all time 
unique amongst the masterpieces of art. It is much more 


reasonable, however, to suppose that the dramatist was 
one who was prepared to give both himself and his sub- 
stance to the drama, rather than one who was engaged In 
extorting a subsistence from It. 

That he was one over whom the theatre exercised a 
strong attraction Is, moreover, borne out by the contents 
of the plays themselves. There Is no better key to the Inter- 
ests that stir the enthusiasm of poets than, on the one hand 
the Imagery they employ, and on the other the passages 
in their works which arrest the attention of their readers 
and fix themselves In the popular memory. It hardly needs 
pointing out how frequently In Shakespeare's works, the 
simile of the "stage" recurs, and how commonly the 
passages are quoted. We must expect, therefore, to find 
the author of the writings well known as a literary and 
dramatic enthusiast. 

To represent him as a man who, having made a snug 
competency for himself, left dramatic pursuits behind him 
voluntarily whilst still In the full enjoyment contrast to 
of his marvellous powers, abandoning some the orthodox 
of his unfinished manuscripts to be finished by ^ espeare. 
strangers and given to the world as his. In order that he 
might be at liberty to devote himself more exclusively to 
houses, lands and business generally. Is to suggest a miracle 
of self-stultlficatlon In himself and an equal miracle of 
credulity In us. Yet this Is the exact position Into which the 
orthodox view forces so eminent a scholar and literary 
authority as Sir Sidney Lee. "Shakespeare," he says, "In 
middle life brought to practical affairs a singularly sane 
and sober temperament," acting on the following advice, 
" 'when thou feelest thy purse well lined buy thou some 
piece of lordship In the country, that growing weary of 
playing, thy money may bring thee to dignity and reputa- 
tion.' It was this prosaic course that Shakespeare fol- 
lowed. . . . If In 161 1 Shakespeare finally abandoned dra- 
matic composition, there seems little doubt that he left with 
the manager of the company more than one play that others 


were summoned at a later date to complete." Thus must 
incongruities be piled increasingly upon one another if we 
are to make the man who has got himself credited with the 
authorship adjusted to the role that Fate has called upon 
him to play. Once, however, the old theory is repudiated 
we are bound to look for an author who believed with 
his whole soul in the greatness of drama and the high 
humanizing possibilities of the actor's vocation. 

Whether attention be directed to the contents of the 
dramas or to his other writings, no one will question his 
Known as ^^^^^ ^° ^ foremost place amongst the lyric 
a lyric poets of his time. It is questionable whether 

any other dram.atist has enriched his plays 
w^ith an equal quantity — to say nothing of the superior 
quality — of lyrical verse; whilst his sonnets, "Venus and 
Adonis," and other lyric poems, place him easily amongst 
the best of the craftsmen in that art. Now, although his 
contemporaries may not have known that he was producing 
masterpieces of drama, it is extremely improbable that his 
production of lyric verse was as completely concealed. He 
may have hidden lengthy poems like "Venus and Adonis" 
or "Lucrece," or brought them out under a nom-de-plume. 
But that no fugitive pieces of lyric verse should ever have 
gained currency under his own name is hardly possible. 
The writer with the facile pen for lyrics is only too prone 
to throw out his spontaneous products lavishly, sometimes 
in a cruder form than his better judgment would approve. 
Whilst, therefore, he may have concealed the actual author- 
ship in the case of works involving prolonged and arduous 
application, we may be sure that some of those short lyrics, 
which are the spontaneous expression of passing moods, 
would be known and appreciated. We may expect, there- 
fore, that he was actually known as a writer of lyric verse. 

At the same time it would be unreasonable to look for 
anything like a large volume of such poems in addition to 
the Shakespearean writings. This would have necessitated 
his living an additional lifetime. A few scattered frag- 


ments of lyric verse, under his own name, Is all that we 
should expect to find. Elizabethan poetry Is, however, 
characterized by the mass of Its lyric pieces of unknown or 
doubtful authorship. The mere fact that a person's name 
or initials are attached to a fragment Is never a sufficient 
guarantee that he actually wrote It. Tradition alone, or 
the mere fact that it was found among his papers, may be 
the only ground upon which he Is credited with the author- 
ship. Nevertheless, after full allowance has been made 
for the peculiar conditions under which the writing and 
issuing of poetry was at that time conducted, it remains 
highly probable that the writer of Shakespeare's works 
has left something authentic published under his own name 
amongst the lyric poetry of the days of Queen Elizabeth. 
In no matter has the hitherto accepted view of the 
authorship of the Shakespearean writings played such sad 
havoc with common sense as in the matter of 
the relationship of genius to learning. Place education, 
the documents before any mixed jury of 
educated, semi-educated, and Ignorant men, men of practi- 
cal common sense, and stupid men, and, unless for some 
prepossession, they would unanimously declare, without 
hesitation, that the writer was one whose education had 
been of the very best that the times could offer. And even 
a moderately educated set of men would assure us that it 
was not the mere bookish learning of the poor, plodding 
student who In loneliness had wrested from an adverse fate 
an education beyond what was enjoyed by his class. There 
is nothing in Shakespeare suggestive of the close poring 
over books by which a man of scanty educational advan- 
tages might have embellished his pages with learned allu- 
sions. Everything Indicates a man in contact at every point 
with life itself, and to whom books were but the adjunct to 
an habitual Intercourse with men of intellectual interests 
similar to his own. His Is the learning which belonged to 
a man who added to the advantages of a first class educa- 
tion at the start, a continued association with the best edu- 


cated people of his day. No ordinary theory of genius 
would account for the production of the plays otherwise; 
the intervention of some preternatural agency would be re- 

In respect of the leading feature of his learning one 
would judge it to have lain in the direction of classic poetry. 
There is "law" in his works, but it is open to ques- 
tion whether it is the law of a professional lawyer, or that 
of an intelligent man who had had a fair amount of im- 
portant business to transact with lawyers, and was himself 
interested in the study of law as many laymen have been. 
It may be claimed that there is "medicine" in his writings, 
but it is more suggestive of the man accustomed to treat 
his own common ailments, than that of a medical man ac- 
customed to handle patients. There are indications of the 
dawning movement of modern science in his works, but 
they are such as suggest a man alive to the intellectual cur- 
rents of his time, but no enthusiast for a merely materialis- 
tic science. But over all these there presides constantly a 
dominant interest in classic poetry. 

Summing up the general inferences treated in this chap- 
ter, supplemented by conclusions drawn from the preceding 
one, we may say of Shakespeare that he was : — 

1. A matured man of recognized genius. 

2. Apparently eccentric and mysterious. 

3. Of intense sensibility — a man apart. 

4. Unconventional. 

5. Not adequately appreciated. 

6. Of pronounced and known literary tastes. 

7. An enthusiast in the world of drama. 

8. A lyric poet of recognized talent. 

9. Of superior education — classical — the habitual asso- 

ciate of educated people. 


The Author — Special Characteristics 

Our object in the last chapter being to form a conception 
of some of the broader features of the life and character 
of Shakespeare, our present object must be to view the writ- 
ings at closer quarters and with greater attention to details 
so as to deduce, if possible, some of his more distinctive 

It is hardly necessary to insist at the present day that 
Shakespeare has preserved for all time, in living human 

characters, much of what was best worth re- 

, . , .... -11 Feudalism, 

membenng and retammg m the social rela- 
tionship of the Feudal order of the Middle Ages. What- 
ever conclusion we may have to come to about his religion, 
it is undeniable that, from the social and political point of 
view, Shakespeare is essentially a medievalist. The fol- 
lowing sentence from Carlyle may be taken as representa- 
tive of much that might be quoted from several writers 
bearing in the same direction: ^'As Dante the Itahan man 
was sent into our world to embody musically the Religion 
of the Middle Ages, the Religion of our Modern Europe, 
its Inner Life; so Shakespeare we may say embodies for 
us the Outer Life of our Europe as developed then, its chiv- 
alries, courtesies, humours, ambitions, what practical way 
of thinking, acting, looking at the world, men then had." 

When, therefore, we find that the great Shakespearean 
plays were written at a time when men were revelling in 
what they considered to be a newly-found liberation from 
Medievalism, it is evident that Shakespeare was one whose 
sympathies, and probably his antecedents, linked him on 
more closely to the old order than to the new : not the kind 



of man we should expect to rise from the lower middle- 
class population of the towns. Whether as a lord or a 
dependent we should expect to find him one who saw Hfe 
habitually from the standpoint of Feudal relationships in 
which he had been born and bred: and in view of what has 
been said of his education it would, of course, be as lord 
rather than as a dependent that we should expect to meet 

It might be, however, that he w^as only linked to Feud- 
alism by cherished family traditions; a surviving represen- 
Shakespeare Native, maybe, of some decayed family. A 

an close inspection of his work, however, reveals 

aristocrat. • - ^ , . ... 

a more mtimate personal connection with aris- 
tocracy than would be furnished by mere family tradition. 
Kings and queens, earls and countesses, knights and ladies 
move on and off his stage "as to the manner born." They 
are no mere tinselled models representing mechanically the 
class to which they belong, but living men and women. It 
is rather his ordinary "citizens" that are the automata walk- 
ing woodenly on to the stage to speak for their class. His 
"lower-orders" never display that virile dignity and large- 
ness of character which poets like Burns, who know the 
class from within, portray in their writings. Even Scott 
comes much nearer to truth In this matter than does Shake- 
speare. It Is, therefore, not merely his power of repre- 
senting royalty and the nobility in vital, passionate charac- 
ters, but his failure to do the same in respect to other classes 
that marks Shakespeare as a member of the higher aristoc- 
racy. The defects of the playw^Iter become In this instance 
more illuminating and Instructive than do his qualities. 
Genius may undoubtedly enable a man to represent with 
some fidelity classes to which he does not belong; it will 
hardly at the same time weaken his power of representing 
truly his own class. In a great dramatic artist we demand 
universality of power within his province; but he shows that 
catholicity, not by representing human society In all Its 
forms and phases, but by depicting our common human na- 


ture In the entire range of its multiple and complex forces; 
and he does this best when he shows us that human na- 
ture at work In the classes with which he is most intimate. 
The suggestion of an aristocratic author for the plays is, 
therefore, the simple common sense of the situation, and 
is no more in opposition to modern democratic tendencies, 
as one writer loosely hints, than the behef that William 
Shakspere was indebted to aristocratic patrons and partici- 
pated In the enclosure of common lands. 

An aristocratic outlook upon life marks the plays of 
other dramatists of the time besides Shakespeare. These 
were known, however. In most cases to have been univer- 
sity men, with a pronounced contempt for the particular 
class to which William Shakspere of Stratford belonged. 
It Is a curious fact, however, that a writer like Creizenach, 
who seems never to doubt the Stratfordian view, neverthe- 
less recognizes that '^Shakespeare'* was more purely and 
truly aristocratic in his outlook than were the others. In 
a word, the plays which are recognized as having the most 
distinct marks of aristocracy about them, are supposed to 
have been produced by the playwright furthest removed 
from aristocracy in his origin and antecedents. 

We feel entitled, therefore, to claim for Shakespeare 
high social rank, and even a close proximity to royalty 

Assuming him to have been an Englishman of the higher 
aristocracy, we turn now to these parts of his writings 
that may be said to deal with his own phase 
of life, namely, his English historical plays, s^^m^a^th7e" 
to seek for distinctive traces of position and 
personality. Putting aside the greater part of the plays 
"Henry VI," parts i and 2, as not being from Shakespeare's 
pen, and also the first acts of ''Henry VI," part 3, for the 
same reason, we may say that he deals mainly with the 
troubled period between the upheaval in the reign of Rich- 
ard II and the ending of the Wars of the Roses by the 
downfall of Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth. The 


outstanding feature of this work is his pronounced sympathy 
with the Lancastrian cause. Even the play of "Richard 
II," which shows a measure of sympathy with the king 
whom the Lancastrians ousted, is full of Lancastrian 
partialities. "Shakespeare" had no sympathy with 
revolutionary movements and the overturning of estab- 
lished governments. Usurpation of sovereignty would, 
theiefore, be repugnant to him, and his aversion is forcibly 
expressed in the play; but Henry of Lancaster is repre- 
sented as merely concerned with claiming his rights, desiring 
to uphold the authority of the crown, but driven by the in- 
justice and perversity of Richard into an antagonism he 
strove to avoid. Finally, it is the erratic wilfulness of the 
king, coupled with Henry's behef that the king had volun- 
tarily abdicated, that induces Bolingbroke to accept the 
throne. In a word, the play of "Richard 11" is a kind of 
dramatic apologia for the Lancastrians. Then comes the 
glorification of Prince Hal, "Shakespeare's" historic hero. 
Henry VI is the victim of misfortunes and machinations, 
and is handled with great tenderness and respect. The 
play of "Richard III" lays bare the internal discord of the 
Yorkist faction, the downfall and destruction of the York- 
ist arch-villain, and the triumph of Henry Richmond, the 
representative of the House of Lancaster, who had re- 
ceived the nomination and benediction of Henry VI. We 
might naturally expect, therefore, to find Shakespeare a 
member of some family with distinct Lancastrian leanings. 
Having turned our attention to the different classes of 
plays, we are again faced with the question of his Italian- 
ism. Not only are we impressed by the large 
enthusiasm. number of plays with an Italian setting or 
derived from Italian sources, but we feel that 
these plays carry us to Italy in a way that "Hamlet" never 
succeeds In carrying us to Denmark, nor his French plays 
in carrying us to France. Even in "Hamlet" he seems al- 
most to go out of his way to drag in a reference to Italy. 
Those who know Italy and are familiar with the "Merchant 


of Venice" tell us that there are clear Indications that Shake- 
speare knew Venice and Milan personally. However that 
may be, it is impossible for those who have had, at any 
time, an interest in nothing more than the language and 
literature of Italy, to resist the feeling that there is thrown 
about these plays an Italian atmosphere suggestive of one 
who knew and felt attracted towards the country. Every- 
thing bespeaks an Italian enthusiast. 

Going still more closely into detail, it has often been 
observed that Shakespeare's interest in animals is seldom 
that of the naturalist, almost invariably that 
of the sportsman; and some of the supporters 
of the Stratfordian tradition have sought to establish a 
connection between this fact and the poaching of William 
Shakspere. When, however, we look closely Into the ref- 
erences we are struck with his easy familiarity with all the 
terms relating to the chase. Take Shakespeare's entire 
sportsman's vocabulary, find out the precise significance of 
each unusual term, and the reader will probably get a more 
distinct vision of the sporting pastimes of the aristocracy 
of that day than he would get in any other way. Add to 
this all the varied vocabulary relating to hawks and fal- 
conry, observe the insistence with which similes, metaphors 
and illustrations drawn from the chase and hawking ap- 
pear throughout his work, and it becomes Impossible to 
resist the belief that he was a man who had at one time 
found his recreation and delight In these aristocratic pas- 

His keen susceptibility to the influence of music Is an- 
other characteristic that frequently meets us; and most peo- 
ple win affree that the whole range of Eng- 

. Music 

llsh literature may be searched in vain for 

passages that more accurately or more fittingly describe 
the charm and power of music than do certain lines in the 
pages of Shakespeare. The entire passage on music in 
the final act of "The Merchant of Venice," beginning "Look 
how the floor of heaven," right on to the closing words, 


"Let no such man be trusted," is itself music, and is prob- 
ably as grand a paeon in honour of music as can be found 
in any language. 

Nothing could well be clearer in itself, nor more at 

variance with what is known of the man William Shakspere 

than the dramatist's attitude towards money. 

matters. ^^ ^^ ^^^ "^^^ ^^^ lends money gratis, and so 

"pulls down the rate of usuance" in Venice, 
that is the hero of the play just mentioned. His friend is 
the incorrigible spendthrift and borrower Bassanio, who 
has "disabled his estate by showing a more swelling port 
than his faint means would grant continuance," and who at 
last repairs his broken fortunes by marriage. Almost every 
reference to money and purses is of the loosest description, 
and, by implication, teach an improvidence that would soon 
involve any man's financial affairs in complete chaos. It is 
the arch-villain, lago, who urges "put money in thy purse," 
and the contemptible politician, Polonius, who gives the 
careful advice "neither a borrower nor a lender be"; whilst 
the money-grubbing Shylock, hoist with his own petard, is 
the villain whose circumvention seems to fill the writer with 
an absolute joy. 

It ought not to surprise us if the author himself turned 
out to be one who had felt the grip of the money-lender, 
rather than a man like the Stratford Shakspere, who, after 
he had himself become prosperous, prosecuted others for 
the recovery of petty sums. 

Of the Stratford man, Pope asserts that "Gain not glory 
winged his roving flight." And Sir Sidney Lee amplifies 
this by saying that "his literary attainments and successes 
were chiefly valued as serving the prosaic end of providing 
permanently for himself and his daughters." Yet in one 
of his early plays ("Henry IV," part 2) "Shakespeare" 
expresses himself thus: — 

"How quickly nature falls into revolt 
When gold becomes her object. 
For this the foolish over-careful fathers 


Have broke their sleep with thoughts, their brains with care, 

Their bones with industry; 

For this they have engrossed and piled up 

The canker'd heaps of strange achieved gold." 

From its setting the passage Is evidently the expression of 
the writer's own thought rather than an element of the 

Finally we have, again In an early play, his great hero 
of tragic love, Romeo, exclaiming: — 

"There is thy gold, worse poison to men's souls, 
Doing more murders in this loathsome world 
Than these poor compounds." 

In a word, the Stratfordlan view requires us to write 
our great dramatist down as a hypocrite. The attitude 
of William Shakspere to money matters may have had about 
It all the "sobriety of personal alms and sanity of mental 
attitude" claimed for It. In which case, the more clearly 
he had represented his own attitude In his works the greater 
would have been their fidelity to objective fact. Money Is 
a social Institution, created by the genius of the human race 
to facilitate the conduct of life; and, under normal condi- 
tions, It Is entitled to proper attention and respect. Under 
given conditions, however. It may so Imperil the highest 
human Interests, as to justify an intense reaction against It, 
and even to call for repudiation and contempt from those 
moral guides, amongst whom we Include the great poets, 
who are concerned with the higher creations of man's In- 
tellectual and moral nature. Such, we judge, was the dram- 
atist's attitude to money. 

The points treated so far have been somewhat on the 

surface; and most, If not all, might be found adequately 

supported by other writers. There are, how- ,_ 

\nf oman 
ever, two other matters on which It would be 

well to have Shakespeare's attitude defined. If such were 

possible, before proceeding to the next stage of the enquiry. 


These are his mental attitude towards Woman, and his 
relation to Catholicism. 

Ruskin's treatment of the former point in "Sesame and 
Lilies" is well known, but not altogether convincing. He, 
and others who adopt the same line of thought, seem not 
sufficiently to discriminate between what comes as a kind 
of aura from the medieval chivalries and what is distinctly 
personal. Moreover, the business of a dramatist being to 
represent every variety of human character, it must be 
doubtful whether any characterization represents his views 
as a whole, or whether, indeed, it may not only represent 
a kind of Utopian idealism. Some deference, too, must be 
paid by a playwriter to the mind and requirements of his 
contemporary public; and the literature of the days of 
Queen EHzabeth does certainly attest a respectful treatment 
of Woman at that period. In quotations from Shakespeare 
on this theme, however, one is more frequently met with 
suggestions of Woman's frailty and changeableness. In 
his greatest play, "Hamlet," there are but two women; one 
weak in character, the other weak in intellect, and Hamlet 
trusts neither. 

Shakespeare, however, is a writer of other things be- 
sides dramas. He has left us a large number of sonnets, 
and the sonnet, possibly more than any other form of com- 
position, has been the vehicle for the expression of the most 
intimate thoughts and feelings of poets. Almost infalli- 
bly, one might say, do a man's sonnets directly reveal his 
soul. The sonnets of "Shakespeare," especially, have a 
ring of reality about them quite inconsistent with the fanci- 
ful non-biographical interpretation which Stratfordianism 
would attach to them. Examining, then, these sonnets, we 
find that there are, in fact, two sets of them. By far the 

larger and more important set embracing no 
Mistrust . 

and less than one hundred and twenty-six out of 

affection. ^ ^^^^j ^^ ^^^ hundred and fifty-four, is ad- 

dressed to a young man, and express a tenderness which is 
probably without parallel in the recorded expressions of 


emotional attachment of one man to another. At the 
same time there occurs in this very set the following ref- 
erence to woman: — 

* "A woman's face with Nature's own hand painted, 

Hast thou, the master mistress of my passion; 
A woman's gentle heart, but'n^t acquainted > ""^ 
With shifting change, as is f ^Ji>e« wcwman's fashion; 
An eye more bright than theirs^ less f^Uc in, rclling." 

The second set of sonnets, comprising only twenty- 
eight, as against one hundred and twenty-six in the first set, 
is probably the most painful for Shakespeare admirers to 
read, of all that "Shakespeare" has written. It Is the ex- 
pression of an Intensely passionate love for some woman; 
but Jove of a kind which cannot be accurately described 
otherwise than as morbid emotion; a combination of affec- 
tion and bitterness; tenderness, without a touch of faith 
or of true admiration. 

"Two loves I have of comfort and despair. 
Which, like two spirits, do suggest me still. 
The better angel is a man right fair. 
The worser spirit, a woman, coloured ill." 

"In loving thee (the woman) thou knowest I am forsworn, 
* * * * * 

And all my honest faith in thee is lost." 

"I have sworn thee fair and thought thee bright, 
W^ho art as black as hell and dark as night." 

Whether this mistrust was constitutional or the outcome 
of unfortunate experiences Is Irrelevant to our present pur- 
pose. The fact of Its existence is what matters. Whilst, 
then, we have comparatively so little bearing on the sub- 
ject, and that little of such a nature, we shall not be guilty 
of over-statement If we say that though he was capable of 
great affection, and had a high sense of the Ideal In woman- 
hood, his faith In the women with whom he was directly 
associated was weak, and his relationship towards them 
far from perfect. 


To deduce the dramatist's religious point of view from 
his plays Is perhaps the most difficult task of all. Taking 
the general religious conditions of his time into 
consideration, there are only two broad cur- 
rents to be reckoned with. Puritanism had no doubt al- 
ready assumed appreciable proportions as a further devel- 
opment of the Protestan*: Idea ; but, for our present purpose, 
the broader currents of 'Catholicism and Protestantism are 
all that need be considered'. In view of the fact that Prot- 
estantism was at that time in the ascendant, whilst Cathol- 
icism was under a cloud, a writer of plays Intended for im- 
mediate representation whose leanings were Protestant 
would be quite at liberty to expose his personal leanings, 
whilst a pronounced Roman Catholic would need to exer- 
cise greater personal restraint. Now it is impossible to 
detect in "Shakespeare" any Protestant bias or any support 
of those principles of indiyidualism in which Protestantism 
has its roots. On the other hand, he seems as catholic as 
the circumstances of his times and the conditions under 
which he worked would allow him to be. Macaulay has 
the following Interesting passage on the point: — 

"The partiality of Shakespeare for Friars is well known. 
In 'Hamlet' the ghost complains that he died without ex- 
treme unction, and, in defiance of the article which con- 
cemns the doctrine of purgatory, declares that he is 

"Confined to fast in fires, 
Till the foul crimes, done in his days of nature, 
Are burnt and purged away." 

These lines, we suspect, would have raised a tremendous 
storm in the theatre at any time during the reign of Charles 
the Second. They were clearly not written by a zealous 
Protestant for zealous Protestants." 

We may leave his attitude towards Catholicism at that; 
except to add that, if he was really a Catholic, the higher 
calls of his religion to devotion and to discipline probably 
met with only an indifferent response. It is necessary, 


moreover, to point out that Auguste Comte in his "Positive 
Polity" refers to "Shakespeare" as a sceptic. 

To the nine points enumerated at the end of the last 
chapter we may therefore add the following: — 

1. A man with Feudal connections. 

2. A member of the higher aristocracy. 

3. Connected with Lancastrian supporters. 

4. An enthusiast for Italy. 

5. A follower of sport (including falconry). 

6. A lover of music. 

7. Loose and improvident in money matters. 

8. Doubtful and somewhat conflicting in his attitude 

to woman. 

9. Of probable Catholic leanings, but touched with 

Such a characterization of Shakespeare as we have here 
presented was, of course, impossible so long as the Strat- 
ford tradition dominated the question; for there is scarcely 
a single point that is not more or less in contradiction to 
that tradition. Since, however, people have begun to throw 
off the dominance of the old theory in respect to the author- 
ship of the plays, the most, if not all, of the points we have 
been urging have been pointed out at one time or other by 
different writers; as well, no doubt, as other important 
points of difference which we have overlooked. If, then, 
it be urged that there is not a single original observation in 
the whole of these two chapters, then so much the better 
for the argument; for such a criticism would but add au- 
thority to the delineation and we should, moreover, feel 
that the statement had been kept freer from the influence 
of subsequent discoveries than we can hope to be the 

Although these subsequent discoveries have doubtless 
affected in some degree the manner in which the present 
statement is made, the several points, along with other 


minor and more hypothetical matters, were roughly out- 
lined before the search was begun; whilst the statement as 
here presented was written, substantially as it stands now, 
in the first days of the investigations: as soon, that is to 
say, as it seemed that the researches were going to prove 
fruitful. There are some of the above points which we 
should now be disposed to modify and others which we 
should like to develop. _The appearance of others of them 
in the interpolated anti-Stratfordian chapter would under 
ordinary conditions have required their omission here. As, 
however, one of our objects is to represent something of 
the way in which the argument has developed almost spon- 
taneously — in some respects one of the strongest evidences 
of its truth — we leave the statement, with what vulnerable 
points it contains, to remain as it is. 

The various points are, indeed, the outcome of the la- 
bours and criticisms of many minds spread over a number 
of years, and it may be that the only thing original about 
the statement is the gathering together and tabulating of 
the various old points. So collected, these seem to demand 
such an aggregate and unusual combination of conditions 
that it is hardly probable that any man other than the ac- 
tual author of the plays himself could possibly fulfil them 
all. When to this we add the further condition that the 
man answering to the description must also be situated, 
both in time and external circumstances, as to be consistent 
with the production of the work, we get the feeling that if 
such a man can be discovered it must be none other than 
the author himself. 

With this we complete the first stage of our task which 
was to characterize the author from a consideration of the 


The Search and Discovery 

"Time's glory is to calm contending Kings, 
To unmask falsehood and bring truth to light." 

{Lucre ce I35) 

At this point I must ask for the reader's Indulgence for 
a change in the method of exposition. What must be now 
stated is so purely a personal experience, that it will facili- 
tate matters if, even at the risk of apparent egotism, I adopt 
frankly the First Person Singular. Perhaps, in view of 
certain admissions it will be necessary to make, it may be- 
come evident that there could be little ground for any ego- 
tism. At all events, the mode of presentation seems essen- 
tial to the argument, and that, it appears to me, is all the 
justification it requires. 

In accordance with the plan upon which the investiga- 
tion had been instituted, the author had been characterized 
from an examination of his works. The 
next step was to proceed to search for ^^^^ ° 
him. The method of search was to 
select from the various features some one which, by fur- 
nishing a crucial test and standard of measurement, would 
afford the surest guidance. Now, if there had been any 
likelihood of his having left other dramas under his own 
name, this would certainly have been the best line to fol- 
low. A little reflection, however, soon convinced me that 
not much was to be hoped for in this direction; for already 
the experts have been able to discriminate to a very large 
extent between what is really his and what is not his, in 
writings that, for centuries, had been regarded as pure 
Shakespearean work; and this process is going on progres- 



sively as the distinctive qualities of his work are being more 
clearly perceived. Consequently, had whole plays of his 
existed elsewhere it is natural to suppose that they would 
have been recognized before now. 

The point which promised to be most fruitful in re- 
sults, supposing he had left other traces of himself, was 
his lyric poetry. The reasons for this choice have already 
been indicated in the chapter in which the lyric powers of 
Shakespeare are discussed. It was, therefore, to the Eliza- 
bethan lyric poets that I must go. 

This decision marked the second stage in the enquiry; 
I must now proceed to the third and most important, 
namely, the actual work of searching for the author. 

Whether the scantiness of my own knowledge of this 
department of literature at the time was a hindrance or a 
N owinc ^^^P ^^ ^^ impossible now to say positively, 
the Certainly, it was the very imperfection of my 

opera ions. knowledge that decided the method of search, 
and this, along with a fortunate chance, was the immediate 
cause of whatever success has been achieved. In addition 
to ''Shakespeare's" works, parts of Edmund Spenser's and 
Philip Sidney's poems were all that I could claim to know 
of Elizabethan poetry at the time. Beyond this I had only 
a dim sense of a vast, rich literary region that I had not 
explored, but in which a number of names were indiscrim- 
inately scattered. 

To plunge headlong into this unexplored domain in 
search of a man, who, on poetic grounds alone — for that 
I deemed to be essential — might be selected as the possible 
author of the world's greatest dramas, seemed, at first, 
a well-nigh hopeless task. The only way was to compen- 
sate, if possible, my lack of knowledge by the adoption of 
some definite system. What was possibly a faulty piece of 
reasoning served at this point in good stead. I argued 
that when he entered upon the path of anonymity, w^herein 
he had done his real life's work, he had probably ceased 
altogether to publish in his own name; and that, dividing his 


work into two parts, we should find the natural point of 
contact between the two, the point, therefore, at which 
discovery was most likely to take place, just where his 
anonymous work begins. Now the poet himself comes to 
our aid at this juncture. He calls his "Venus and Adonis," 
published in 1593, under the name of William Shakespeare, 
"the first heir of my invention" (see the dedication to the 
Earl of Southampton). I must, therefore, try to work 
from this poem, to the work of some lyric writer of the 
same period. 

Turning to this "first heir" I read a number of stanzas 
with a vague idea that the reading might suggest some line 
of action. As I read, with the thought upper- 
most in my mind of it being an early work, q£ contact 
kept in manuscript for some years and now 
published for the first time, I soon came to feel that the 
expression "first heir" was to be interpreted somewhat rel- 
atively; being possibly the first work of any considerable 
size: whereas the writer had as a matter of fact already be- 
come a practised hand in the particular form of stanza 
he employed. Except for the fact that "Shakespeare" has 
proved too bhnding a light for most men's eyes we should 
long ago have rejected the idea that he actually "led off" 
on his literary career with so lengthy and finished a work 
as "Venus and Adonis." At any rate the facility with 
which he uses the particular form of stanza employed in 
this poem pointed to his having probably used it freely in 
shorter lyrics. I decided, therefore, to work, first of all, 
on the mere form of the stanza. This may appear a crude 
and mechanical way of setting about an enquiry of this 
kind. It was, at any rate, a simple instrument and needed 
little skill in handling. All that was necessary was to ob- 
serve the number and length of the lines — six lines, each 
of ten syllables — and the order of the rhymes: alternate 
rhymes for the first four lines, the whole finishing with ^ 
rhymed couplet. 


With this in mind I turned to an anthology of sixteenth- 
century poetry, and went through it, marking off each piece 

written in the form of stanza identical 
The actual ^j|.j^ ^}^^^ employed by Shakespeare in his 

''Venus and Adonis." They turned out 
to be much fewer than I had anticipated. These I read 
through several times, familiarizing myself with their style 
and matter, rejecting first one and then another as being 
unsuitable, until at last only two remained. One of these 
was anonymous; consequently I was left ultimately with 
only one: the following poem on "Women," by Edward de 

Vere, Earl of Oxford — the only poem by this 
tant^poem. author given in the anthology and also the 

only poem of his, as I afterwards noticed, 
that Palgrave gives in his "Golden Treasury." 

"If women could be fair and yet not fond, 

Or that their love were firm not fickle, still, 
I would not marvel that they make men bond, 
By service long to purchase their good will. 
But when I see how frail those creatures are, 
I muse that men forget themselves so far. 

''To mark the choice they make, and how they change, 

How oft from Phoebus do they flee to Pan, 
Unsettled still like haggards wild they range. 

These gentle birds that fly from man to man, 
Who would not scorn and shake them from the fist 
And let them fly, fair fools, which way they list? 

"Yet for disport we fawn and flatter both, 

To pass the time w^hen nothing else can please, 
And train them to our lure with subtle oath. 

Till, weary of their wiles, ourselves we ease; 
And then we say, when we their fancy try, 
To play with fools, Oh what a fool was I." 

I give this poem in full because of its importance to the 
history of English literature if the chief contention of this 
treatise can be established. Had I read it singly or with 
no such special aim as I then had, its distinctive qualities 
might not have impressed me as they did. But, reading 


It in conjunction with a large amount of contemporary verse 
whilst the cadences of the "Venus" stanzas were still run- 
ning in my mind, its distinctive qualities were, on the one 
hand, enhanced by the force of contrast with other work of 
the same period, and on the other hand emphasized by a 
sense of its harmony with Shakespeare's work. Having, 
therefore, fixed provisionally on this poem I must first of 
all follow up the enquiry along the line it indicated until 
that line should prove untenable. 

Although the selection had been In a measure a personal 
exercise of literary judgment, it was part of the original 
plan that I should not, at any critical part of Seeking 

the investigation, rest upon my own private expert 

11* support, 

judgment where the issue was purely literary; 

and as this was a matter for the expert I must first of all 
seek for some kind of an endorsement of my selection from 
literary authorities. Meanwhile the choice must be consid- 
ered tentative. To those who are specialists in the litera- 
ture of that age it may appear Uke the confession of colossal 
ignorance when I say that, far from having prepossessions 
in favour of Edward de Vere, although I must have come 
across his name before, it had never arrested my attention; 
and, so far as any knowledge of his personality and history 
is concerned, I had either never possessed it, or had quite 
forgotten everything I had ever known. Nor was I wish- 
ful to know more until the choice had been duly tested on 
purely poetic grounds. The name De Vere I knew to be 
that of an ancient house; the Earls of Oxford I remembered 
had appeared in English history in certain secondary con- 
nections; and the dates of the poet's birth and death (1550 
and 1604), the only piece of information vouchsafed in the 
anthology, accorded sufficiently well, for the time being, 
with the general theory I had formed of the production 
and the issuing of the plays. He would be about forty 
years of age at the time when the plays began to appear, 
and, according to the generally accepted dating of them, the 


most and best of the work would be given to the world be- 
fore his death. Still these considerations might apply with 
equal force to others whose poems appeared in the collec- 
tion, and therefore must not be allowed to exercise undue 
weight at this stage. 

Turning to the literary section of several text books, 
and standard works of English history with varying amounts 
of reference to literature, I found all as silent as the grave 
in reference to the Earl of Oxford. Crelghton's "Age of 
Elizabeth" has a special chapter on Ehzabethan literature, 
but not a single word on this particular poet. Beesly's 
"Queen Elizabeth" barely mentions his name in a footnote 
of quite insignificant import that has nothing to do with 
poetry or literature. Altogether, I got the impression at 
first that he was almost an unknown man. So far the re- 
sult was discouraging and I turned again to the anthology 
to try some of the other poems. None of them seemed 
to have the same Shakespearean grip as this one. In addi- 
tion to the identity in the form of the stanza with that of 
"Venus and Adonis," there was the same succinctness of 
expression, the same compactness and cohesion of ideas, 
the same smoothness of diction, the same idiomatic wording 
which we associate with "Shakespeare"; there was the char- 
acteristic simile of the hawks, and finally that peculiar touch 
in relation to women that I had noted in the sonnets. 

Again I consulted my books. Although Green, in the 
part of the "Short History" dealing with Elizabe^than 
literature, makes no mention of the poet, I 
indfcations. found in another part of his work the follow- 
ing sentence. Speaking of the Jesuit mission to 
England under Campion and Parsons, he says, "The list of 
nobles reconciled to the old faith by these wandering apos- 
tles was headed by Lord Oxford, Cecil's own son-in-law and 
the proudest among English peers." It was impossible to 
avoid a touch of excitement in reading these words; for the 
firS't Indications of the man justified the selection on two 
of the points of my characterization. Still It was not what 


1 was immediately in search of; and until the vital question 
of his acknowledged lyrical eminence was settled it was 
important not to be led away by what might turn out to be 
only a specious coincidence. All the other points were to 
be so many tests held in reserve as it were, to be appUed 
only when his lyric credentials had been duly presented. 
For the time being then all available resources had been 
exhausted. The next step must be to consult such larger 
works as might be found in a reference library. 

On consulting the Dictionary of National Biography 
and turning to the Veres, or more properly the De Veres, 
I found myself confronted with quite a for- dictionary 
midable number of them. By means of the o^.^^^^^^jj^^^ 
Christian name and the dates, the one for 
whom I was seeking was speedily recognized: Edward de 
Vere, Seventeenth Earl of Oxford; the article being con- 
tributed by the Editor of the work. Sir Sidney Lee. This 
is perhaps as fitting a point as any at which to remark that, 
both by his biography of Edward de Vere in the article 
from which I am about to quote, as well as by his invaluable 
work, ''A Life of WilHam Shakespeare," Sir Sidney Lee, 
convinced Stratfordian though he is, has furnished more 
material in support of my constructive argument than any 
other single modern writer. Although differing widely 
from his general conclusions I do not wish therefore in any 
way to stint my acknowledgment of indebtedness to his re- 
searches and opinions upon important questions of Shake- 
spearean literature. 

Skimming lightly over the article at first, with the at- 
tention directed towards the one thing for which I was 
searching, I nevertheless felt some elation as I ran up 
against new facts bearing upon other aspects of the enquiry. 
Then came the following sentences, every word of which, 
in view of the conception I had formed of "Shakespeare," 
read Hke a complete justification of the selection I had 


"Oxford, despite his violent and perverse temper, his 

eccentric taste in dress, and his reckless waste 

justified" of substance, evinced a genuine taste in music 

and wrote verses of much lyric beauty. . . . 

'Tuttenham and Meres reckon him among the best for 
comedy in his day; but though he was a patron of players 
no specimens of his dramatic productions survive, 

"A sufficient number of his poems is extant to corrobo- 
rate Webbers comment^ that he was the best of the courtier 
poets of the early days of Queen Elizabeth, and that 'in the 
rare devices of poetry he may challenge to himself the title 
of the most excellent amongst the rest.' " 

I venture to say that if only such of those terms as are 
here used to describe the character and quality of his work 
were submitted without name or leading epithet to people, 
who only understood them to apply to some Elizabethan 
poet, it would be assumed immediately that Shakespeare 
was meant. We have in these words a contemporary opin- 
ion that he was the best of these poets, and we have a 
modern authority of no less weight than Sir Sidney Lee 
corroborating this judgment from a consideration of the 
poems themselves. 

All that I wanted, for the time being, on the first issue, 
I had found; and so I was at liberty to go over the whole 
of the article, to see to what extent the Earl of Oxford 
fulfilled the other conditions belonging, as I had judged, to 
the authorship of Shakespeare's works. In making the se- 
lection the enquiry had passed its third stage. The fourth 
was the testing of the selection by reference to the charac- 
terization outlined in the first stage. 

Although, in the course of subsequent enquiries, dif- 
ficulties have presented themselves, as was inevitable, none 
of these has ever raised any insurmountable 
solut?ons"^ objections to the theory of Edward de Vere 
being the author of Shakespeare's works; 
whilst, as we shall see, the evidence in favour of the theory 
has steadily accumulated. Other names, too, have pre- 


sented themselves or have been suggested by other writers 
as possible alternatives, and I have not hesitated to con- 
sider such cases most carefully. These, however, have al- 
ways in my own view broken down readily and completely, 
and their very failure has only served to add weight to the 
claims of De Vere. Such cases I do not, as a rule, discuss 
in full, and thus an important element of negative evidence 
will be missed so far as the reader is concerned. It is of 
first importance, however, that he should realize the pre- 
cise extent of the evidence upon which the choice was made; 
the great mass of the evidence we shall have presently to 
submit, coming as it did subsequently to the selection, forms 
such a sequence and accumulation of coincidences, that if 
the manner of its discovery is clearly apprehended, only one 
conclusion seems possible. 


The Conditions Fulfilled 

As it will be necessary to discuss the life and character of 
Edward de Vere from a totally different standpoint from 
that of Sir Sidney Lee's article in the Dictionary of Na- 
tional Biography, and also to add particulars derived from 
other sources, we shall, at present, in order to avoid as 
much unnecessary repetition as possible, merely point out 
the numerous instances in which the portraiture answers to 
the description of the man for whom we have been seeking. 
Although we are not given much information as to what 
his "eccentricity" consisted in, beyond the squandering of 

his patrimony, the distinctiveness of his dress, 
traits'^^ ^"^ ^^^ preference for his Bohemian literary 

and play-acting associates, rather than the ar- 
tificial and hypocritical atmosphere of a court frequented 
by ambitious self-seekers, it is clear that in those latter 
circles he had made for himself a reputation as an eccentric, 
and as a man apart. When, therefore, we are told that 
his eccentricities grew with his years, we may take it to 
imply that this preference became accentuated as he grew 
older, that he became less in touch with social convention- 
ality, more deeply immersed in his special interests and in 
the companionship of those who were similarly occupied. 
His impressionability is testified by his quickness to de- 
tect a slight and his readiness to resent it, whilst his evi- 
dent susceptibility to perfumes and the elegancies of dress, 
involving, no doubt, colour sensitiveness, bespeak that keen- 
ness of the senses which contributes so largely to extreme 
general sensibility. 

Connected with these traits is his undoubted fondness 



for, and a superior taste In, music. The matter Is twice 
referred to. The first Instance is In connection with his 
education, and from this reference It appears as if music 
had not formed part of the scheme of education which 
others had mapped out for him, and that his musical train- 
ing was therefore the outcome of his own natural bent and 
choice. The second reference is the passage quoted in the 
last chapter, from which it appears that his musical taste 
was of so pronounced a character as to secure special men- 
tion In the records of him that have been handed down, 
notwithstanding their extreme meagreness. 

His looseness in money matters, and what appears like 
a complete Indifference to material possessions, is undoubt- 
edly one of the most marked features of his character. So 
long as he had money to spend or give away, or lands which 
he could sell to raise money, he seems to have squandered 
lavishly; much of it, evidently, on literary men and on dra- 
matic enterprises. Consequently, from being one of the 
foremost and wealthiest of English noblemen he found him- 
self ultimately In straitened circumstances. 

His connection with play-actors and the drama was not 
the superficial and evanescent Interest of a wealthy patron. 
It was a matter in which he was actively en- _ 


gaged for many years. He had his own circum- 
company, with which he both toured in stances, 
the provinces, and established himself for some years 
In London. It was quite understood that his company 
was performing plays which he was himself pro- 
ducing. It is evident, too, that he made a name for 
himself m the production of comedies and that the celebrity 
he enjoyed in this respect came not merely from the masses, 
but from the literary men of the time. On the other hand, 
we are Informed in the article that ''no specimens of his dra- 
matic productions survive" — a most mysterious circumstance 
in \iew of the \ ast mass of drama of all kinds and qualities 
that the Elizabethan age has bequeathed to us. 

Of his family, we learn from the first series of articles 


on the De Veres, that It traced Its descent In a direct line 
from the Norman Conquest and that for five and a half 
centuries the direct line of male descent had never once 
been broken. As a boy, not only had he been a prominent 
figure about Elizabeth's court, but from the age of twelve 
he was a royal ward, and may be said to have been actually 
brought up at court near the person of the Queen herself. 
The Irksomeness to him of court life seems to have mani- 
fested Itself quite early In manhood and he made several 
efforts to escape from It. 

His education was conducted first of all by private tu- 
tors among whom were celebrated classical scholars. He 
was a resident at Cambridge University and ultimately held 
degrees In both universities. We may add here, what is 
not mentioned in the article, that his poems are replete with 
classical allusions, which come to him as spontaneously 
as the figure of a field mouse, a daisy, or a haggis comes 
to Burns. 

So keen was his desire for travel that when permission 
was refused him he set the authorities at defiance and ran 
away; only to be Intercepted and brought back. When 
at last he obtained permission to go abroad he speedily made 
his way to Italy; and so permanent upon him was the effect 
of his stay there, that he was lampooned afterwards as an 
*'ItalIonated Englishman." 

The article in the Dictionary of National Biography 
testifies therefore to the following points: — 

1. His high standing as a lyric poet. 

2. His reputation for eccentricity. 

3. His highly strung sensibility. 

4. His being out of sympathetic relationship with con- 
ventional life. 

5. His maturity (1590) and genius. 

6. His literary tastes. 

7. His practical enthusiasm for drama. 


8. His classic education and association with the best 
educated men of his time. 

9. His belonging to the higher aristocracy. 

10. His feudal ancestry. 

11. His interest In and direct personal knowledge of 

12. His musical tastes. 

13. His looseness in money matters. 

Four points insufficiently supported in the article are : — 

1. His interest in sport. 

2. His Lancastrian sympathies. 

3. His distinctive bearing towards woman. 

4. His attitude towards Catholicism. 

The eighteenth point — Inadequate appreciation — needs 
no special treatment, being Involved In the problem itself 
and in any proposed solution to it. 

Before proceeding to the next step In the Investigation 
we shall finish this section by adducing other evidence and 
authority for the four points mentioned above. 

I. In relation to sport we notice — and this Is really 
the point that matters — that his poems, few as they are, 
bear decided witness to the same interest. 
The haggard hawk, the stricken deer, 
the hare, the greyhound, the mastiff, the fowling 
nets and bush-beating are all figures that appear in 
his lyric verses. In addition to this we notice that 
his father, John de Vere, i6th Earl of Oxford, who 
died when Edward was twelve years of age, had quite a 
reputation as a sportsman, and until his death Edward was, 
of course, living with him. The article from which we first 
quoted mentions his Interest In learning to shoot and to 
ride, so that there is abundant evidence of his familiarity 
with those sporting pastimes which Shakespeare's works so 
amply illustrate. 


2. Though no statement of his actual sympathies with 
the Lancastrian cause has been found, we are assured by 

several writers that he was proud of his 
Lancastrian- ancient lineage, which, taken along with the 

following passage on the relationship of the 
De Veres to the Lancastrian cause, may be accepted as con- 
clusive on the subject: — 

"John the 12th Earl (of Oxford) was attainted and 
beheaded in 1461, suffering for his loyalty to the Lancas- 
trian line. His son John was restored to the dignity in 
1464, but was himself attainted in 1474 in consequence of 
the active part he had taken on the Lancastrian side dur- 
ing the temporary restoration of Henry VI in 1470. . . . 
(He) distinguished himself as the last of the supporters 
of the cause of the red rose, which he maintained in the 
castle of St. Michael's Mount in Cornwall for many months 
after the rest of the kingdom had submitted to Edward 
IV. . . . Having been mainly instrumental in bringing 
Henry (VII) to the throne he was immediately restored to 
the Earldom of Oxford, and also to the office of Lord 
Chamberlain which he enjoyed until his death in 15 13." 
("Archaeological Journal," vol. 9, 1852, p. 24.) 

3. So far as his attitude towards woman is concerned, 

the poem already quoted in full is sufficient evidence of that 

deficiency of faith which we have pointed out 
Woman. 1 • 1 m 1 

as markmg the Shakespeare sonnets; the very 

terms employed being as nearly identical as Shakespeare 
ever allowed himself in two separate utterances on one 
topic. Then that capacity for intense affection combined 
with weakness of faith which is one of the peculiarities of 
Shakespeare's mind, has not, so far as we are aware, so 
close a parallel anywhere in literature as in the poems of 
Edward de Vere. It is not merely in an occasional line, but 
is the keynote of much of his poetry. Indeed we may say 
that it probably lies at the root of a great part of the mis- 
fortune and mystery in which his life was involved, and 


may Indeed afford an explanation for the very existence of 
the Shakespeare mystery. 

Only when these poems shall have become as accessi- 
ble as Shakespeare's sonnets will this mental correspond- 
ence be fully appreciated. Meanwhile we give a few lines 
each from a separate poem: — 

"For she thou (himself) lovest is sure thy mortal foe." 

**0 cruel hap and hard estate that forceth me to love my foe." 

"The more I sought the less I found 
Yet mine she meant to be." 

"That I do waste, with others, love 
That hath myself in hate." 

"Love is worse than hate and eke more harm hath done." 

With these lines in mind all that is necessary is to read 
the last dozen of Shakespeare's sonnets, in order to appre- 
ciate the spiritual identity of the author or authors in this 
particular connection. 

4. So far as the last point, his attitude to Catholicism, 

is concerned, the quotation we have already given from 

Green's "Short History" is all that is really . 

■; Religion. 

necessary. The fact that his name appears 
at the head of a list of noblemen who professed to be rec- 
onciled to the old faith shows his leanings sufficiently well 
for us to say of him, as Macaulay says of Shakespeare, that 
he was not a zealous Protestant writing for zealous Prot- 
estants. When, further, we find that his father had pro- 
fessed Catholicism, It is not unlikely that on certain senti- 
mental grounds his leaning was that way. Roman Catholi- 
cism would, moreover, be the openly professed religion of 
his home life during his first eight years. There is also evl- 
^dence in the State Papers of the time that the English 
Catholics abroad were at one crisis looking to him and to 
the Earl of Southampton for support. At the same time 
it is not improbable that intellectually he was touched with 


the scepticism which appears to have been current in dra- 
matic circles at that time, for amongst the charges made 
against him by one adversary was that of irreliglon: the 
name ^'atheist" being given him by another (State papers). 
Classic paganism, medievalism and scepticism, in spite of 
the contradiction the combination seems to imply, can cer- 
tainly all be more easily traced in him than can Protestant- 
ism; and in this there is a general correspondence between 
his mind and that of "Shakespeare." 

On all the points then which we set before ourselves 
In entering upon the search, we find that Edward de Vere 
fulfils the conditions, and the general feeling with which 
we finish this stage of our enquiry is this, that If we have 
not actually discovered the author of Shakespeare's w^orks 
we have at any rate alighted upon a most exceptional set 
of resemblances. 

We have thus, in a general w^ay, carried the enquiry 
successfully through four of its stages, and completed the 
a posteriori section of our argument. 


In the contemporary State Papers of Rome there is a 
list of English nobility, classified as (I) Catholics, (11) of 
Catholic leanings, (Hi) Protestants. Oxford's name ap- 
pears in the second group. 


Edward de Vere as Lyric Poet 

In proceeding from an examination of Shakespeare's work 
to search for the man himself we made lyric poetry the 
starting point, and the crucial consideration in attempting 
to estabUsh his identity. Similarly, in reversing the proc- 
ess, that is to say in proceeding a priori from Edward de 
Vere to the work of Shakespeare, which must be the long- 
est and most decisive section of the argument, we again 
begin with lyric poetry. We take the lyric poetry of Ed- 
ward de Vere and see how far it justifies the theory of his 
being the real "Shakespeare." 

Up to the present we have had before us the single 
poem and a few odd lines of Oxford's supported by the tes- 
timony of the Dictionary of National Bi- 
ography. It becomes necessary first of all testimony, 
to obtain further testimony as to his poetic 
powers and characteristics, and then to see to what extent 
others of his poems warrant his being chosen as the writer 
of Shakespeare's work. 

In the "Cambridge History of Enghsh Literature" 
(vol. iv, p. 1 1 6) — the section being written by Harold H. 
Child, sometime scholar of Brasenose, Oxford — there oc- 
curs the following reference to a collection of poems called 
"The Phoenix' Nest." "The Earl of Oxford has a charm- 
ing lyric." Most of the other contributors are simply 
enumerated. Oxford, however, it will be no- 
ticed, is singled out for a special compliment. Comhope. 

Again, we would draw special attention to 
the following excerpts from the "History of English 
Poetry" (vol. ii, pp. 312-313) by W. J. Courthope, C.B., 



M.A., D.LItt. (Professor of Poetry at the University of 
Oxford : — 

"Edward de Vere, Seventeenth Earl of Oxford, . . . 
a great patron of literature. . . . His own verses are 
distinguished for their wit . . . and terse ingenuity. 
. . . His studied concinnity of style is remarkable. . . . 
He was not only witty himself but the cause of wit in others. 
. . . Doubtless he was proud of his illustrious ancestry. 
. . . He was careful in verse at any rate to con- 
form to the external requirements of chivalry, but in later 
years his turn for epigram seems to have prevailed over 
his chivalrous sentiments." It Is Interesting to notice in 
passing that he is described in words that Shakespeare puts 
into the mouth of Falstaff, "I am not only witty in myself 
but the cause that wit is in others" (ll Henry IV, i, 2) . 

In another passage In the same work we are told that 
the court litterateurs were divided Into two parties, one 
headed by Philip Sidney, and the other by the Earl of Ox- 
ford, "a great favourer of the Euphuists and himself a poet 
of some merit In the courtly Italian vein." This rivalry 
between Philip Sydney and the Earl of Oxford touches our 
problem somewhat closely and will have to be referred to 
later. It Is Important at present as affording testimony to 
Oxford's recognized poetic eminence and to his Italian af- 
finities. It also comes as a reminder that it was to Oxford 
that Lyly dedicated his "Euphues and his England," and 
affords a sufficient explanation of that familiarity with Eu- 
phuism which is noticed In Shakespeare, if we credit Oxford 
with being Shakespeare, but is very difficult to account for 
In William Shakspere of Stratford. 

There remains one other striking fact connected with 
these references to the Earl of Oxford in Professor Court- 
hope's work. It will be remembered that we took the form 
of the stanza in "Venus and Adonis" as our first guide in 
the search. Now Professor Courthope quotes three sepa- 
rate stanzas of Oxford's work and all these are Identical 
with that of Shakespeare's "V^enus" and Oxford's on 


"Women," which gave us our first point of contact. The 
poem on which we had ahghted was therefore no isolated 
effort in that particular form of versification. It was a 
familiar and practised form in which he evidently excelled, 
just as had been noticed in the case of Shakespeare. 

In collecting corroboration of De Vere's poetic eminence 
it is specially fitting that the testimony of so eminent a poet 
as Edmund Spenser, second only to Shake- 
speare in that poetic age, should be added. In spenser 
the series of sonnets with which he prefaces 
the "Fairie Queen," there is one addressed to the Earl of 
Oxford, wherein occurs the following passage : — 

**The antique glory of thine ancestry, 

* * * * 

And eke thine own long living memory 
Succeeding them in true nobility, 
And also for the love which thou dost bear, 
To the 'Heliconion imps',* and they to thee. 
They unto thee, and thou to them most dear." 

Valuable as is the testimony which we have adduced it 
cannot absolve us from the necessity of knowing the poems 
themselves and of subjecting them to a very 
careful examination, for this must form the coHection^^ 
crux of a very great deal of future investiga- 
tion. It is greatly to be regretted, therefore, that these 
poems have not been readily accessible to every one. For 
the most part they have been scattered amongst various 
anthologies; a mode of publishing poetry characteristic of 
the Elizabethan age. Dr. Grosart, however, in 1872 gath- 
ered together all the extant recognized poems of the Earl 
of Oxford and published them in the "Fuller Worthies' 
Library." Some of these poems had appeared in old an- 
thologies, others had only existed in manuscript, and were 
pubhshed for the first time by Dr. Grosart. It is desirable, 
therefore, that all who are interested in English literature 

* The Muses. 


may before long be in possession of the entire collection. 

There are, in all, only twenty-two short poems (Dr. 
Grosart numbers them up to twenty-three, but number 
eight is omitted) and the biographical introduction is pos- 
sibly the shortest with which any similar collection was ever 
presented to the world. It explains its own brevity, how- 
ever, and is of great significance from the point of view 
of this enquiry. "An unlifted shadow," he remarks, "lies 
across his memory. Park in his edition of 'Royal and No- 
ble Authors' has done his utmost, but that utmost is mea- 
gre." "Our collection of his poems," he concludes, "will 
prove a pleasant surprise, it is believed, to most of our 
readers. They are not without touches of the true Singer 
and there Is an atmosphere of graclousness and culture 
about them that is grateful." 

We have already, In the chapter In which we described 
the search, had to mention the contemporary testimonies 
of Meres, Puttenham, and Webbe, and also a modern au- 
thority — Sir Sidney Lee. Meres and Puttenham deal spe- 
cially with his dramatic preeminence, mentioning him as 

amongst the "best for comedy." Therefore, 
Summary. , . , . . . . ^ . 

leavmg this on one side and connnmg our- 
selves to his lyric credentials, we may sum up the matter 


1. Edmund Spenser. 

One most dear to the Muses. 

2. Webbe. 

Best of the courtier poets. In the rare de- 
vices of poetry the most excellent amongst 
the rest. 
Modern : 

I. Sir Sidney Lee. 

Corroborates Webbe's statement — much lyric 


2. Professor W. J. Courthope, C.B., M.A., D.Litt. 

Concinnous, terse, Ingenious, epigrammatic — 
leader of a party of poets. 

3. "Cambridge History of English Literature" 

(Harold H. Child). 

4. Dr. Grosart. 

Gracious, cultured, true singer. 

Looking over the notes appended to the separate poems 
of Dr. Grosart's collection we find that these poems fulfil 
one very important condition which, at the 
outset, we imagined would belong to the ^^^fy^'poetry. 
lyric work which Shakespeare might have 
published in his own name. Notwithstanding the rare 
ability they show, and several true Shakespearean charac- 
teristics, they are for the most part early poems. Many 
of them are proved to have been in existence when the 
writer was about twenty-six years of age. How long be- 
fore that time they were in existence, or how many others 
which are not so attested may also have existed then, we 
cannot say. The most of these others, and it is only a 
small collection to begin with, bear unmistakable internal 
evidence of belonging to the same early period. More- 
over, De Vere is spoken of as "the best of the courtier poets 
of the early part of Queen Elizabeth's reign." As, how- 
ever, he lived right on to the end of the reign, and into 
the reign of James I, it is evident that the poetry for which 
he is celebrated is regarded as belonging to his early life. 
Direct corroboration of this theory is found in the follow- 
ing passage from Arthur Collins's "Historical Collections 
of Noble Families," published in 1752. "He (Edward de 
Vere) was in his younger days an excellent poet and come- 
dian, as several of his compositions, which were made pub- 
lic, showed; which I presume are now lost or worn out." 

Now the assumption with which we set out was that if 


we found writings under the true name of the author of 
Shakespeare's works, it would be mainly his 
pr^oductions early works, issued prior to his assuming a 
disguise. As we examine this early poetry 
of De Vere it becomes impossible to believe that a writer 
possessed of the genius that these verses manifest could 
possibly have stopped producing early in his manhood, un- 
less, of course, he had suddenly dropped his literary inter- 
ests and directed his energies into another channel. With 
De Vere, however, the continuance, or rather the intensi- 
fication of his literary interests in later years is amply 
proved. He was sharing the Bohemian life of literary 
men, he was running his own company of play-actors; some 
of the plays which they were staging were quite understood 
to be from his own pen; and although he is spoken of as 
"the best in comedy" we are also told that "none of his 
plays have survived" : that they have become "lost or worn 

The actual amount of poetry which is recognized as 
his is such as one with such a faculty might have written 
within a single twelvemonth, although his contemporary 
says that "in the rare devices of poetry he may be consid- 
ered the most excellent amongst the rest." It is evident, 
therefore, that in Edward de Vere we have a writer of both 
drama and lyric poetry who published under his own name 
only a small part of what he produced, however he may 
have disposed of the remainder. This point will receive 
further corroboration when we come to deal with the 
relationship of the poet Spenser to our problem. Every- 
thing points to his having, after the first period of poetic 
output, deliberately thrown a veil over his subsequent work, 
whilst in "Shakespeare" we have a writer who 

Two • -r J • • J 

counterparts we are justihed m supposmg assumed anonym- 

°^ ""^ ity in his maturity, leading off with an elabo- 

career. ^ -^ \ ^ 

rate and highly finished poem of about two 
hundred stanzas. These two facts alone, in work of such 
exceptional character, if not simply the counterparts one 


of the other, constitute alone one of the most remark- 
able coincidences In the history of literature. When to 
this we add the fact that the dates In the respective cases are 
such as to fit in exactly with the theory of one work being 
but the continuation of the other, Oxford being, as has been 
remarked, about forty when the Shakespearean dramas be- 
gan to appear, and having filled in the Interim with just the 
kind of experiences necessary to enable him to produce the 
dramas. It Is difficult to resist the conviction, on this ground 
alone, that it is Indeed but one writer with whom we are 

And, so far as that mysteriousness is concerned which 
we attributed to Shakespeare, It must be admitted that the 
sudden non-appearance of work from such a pen as that 
of De Vere's is as mysterious as the subsequent appear- 
ance of the "Shakespeare" poems and dramas. 

Now although the authority we have quoted for Edward 
de Vere's poetic eminence may appear ample there is never- 
theless a special caution to be observed In re- 
gard to It. Assuming that he is the author development 
of Shakespeare's plays It will still be necessary 
to distinguish between his work as Edward de Vere and his 
work as "Shakespeare." The former belonging mainly to 
his early manhood, and the latter to his maturity, we must 
expect to find a corresponding difference in the work. How 
vast may be the difference between a man's early and his 
later literary style can be seen by contrasting Carlyle's first 
literary essays with "Sartor" or his "French Revolution." 
We must not, therefore, expect to find Oxford ranked spon- 
taneously with Shakespeare; especially as the Shakespear-r 
ean work is primarily dramatic, whereas we have not a 
scrap of dramatic work published under the name of Ox- 
ford. All that we are entitled to expect is some marked 
correspondence in the domain of lyric poetry, and a reason- 
able promise of the Shakespearean work in general. Of 
these we have at least some evidence. In the verses already 


quoted, and In the testimony that experts have offered as 
to the distinctive quaHties of his poetry. 

There Is, however, another very Important fact to be 
taken into consideration. Between the time when Edward 
Qj.^^^ de Vere produced his eadiest poems and the 

literary period of the production of the Shakespear- 

ean dramas (roughly the Interval between 
1580 and 1590), a very marked change had come over 
the character of English literature as a whole. The nature 
of this change can best be gathered from the following pas- 
sage from Dean Church's "Life of Spenser" : — "The ten 
years from 1580 to 1590 present ... a picture of Eng- 
lish poetry of which, though there are gleams of a better 
hope . . . the general character Is feebleness, fantastic 
absurdity, affectation and bad taste. Who could suppose 
what was preparing under It all? But the dawn was at 
hand." During the next ten years, 1 590-1 600, "there burst 
forth suddenly a new poetry, which with Its reality, depth, 
sweetness, and nobleness took the world captive. The 
poetical aspirations of the Englishmen of the time had found 
at last adequate Interpreters, and their own national and 
unrlv^alled expression." 

This vital change, then, was preparing In England be- 
tween the time when Edward de Vere produced his early 
poetry and the time when the Shakespearean dramas ap- 
peared. Such a change In the national literature we must 
naturally expect to find reflected in some degree In his 
writings. The roots of the matter may, however, be even 
deeper than this. In making the contrast between the two 
periods Dean Church cites Philip Sidney's "Defense of 
Poesie" as representing the earlier and feebler period, and 
the "rude play houses with their troops of actors, most of 
them profligate and disreputable" as being the source of 
the later and more virile movement. 

Now the ten years mentioned by Dean Church corre- 


sponds generally to what we shall speak of as the middle 

period of the life of Edward de Vere as a ^^ .^ 
^ . . ... Transition 

writer. It is the period immediately follow- embodied 
ing upon his first poetic output, and it was ^^ ^ ^^^' 
during these years that he was in active and habitual asso- 
ciation with these very troupes of play-actors, whilst the 
third period of his life synchronizes exactly with the sudden 
outburst of the great Shakespearean dramas. In his first 
literary period he is the recognized chief of a party of court 
poets, and the rival of Philip Sidney. As to who his fellows 
were, there is very little information to be had. If, how- 
ever, we compare his poetry with the work of Sidney we 
can only account for Sidney's being considered in any sense 
a rival by the fact that the feeble affected style of Sidney 
was in vogvie at the time. What distinguishes Oxford's 
work from contemporary verse is its strength, reality, and 
true refinement. When Philip Sidney learnt to "look into 
his heart and write," he only showed that he had at last 
learnt a lesson that his rival had been teaching him. The 
reader may or may not be able to agree with the ideas and 
sentiments expressed by Oxford, but he will be unable to 
deny that every line written by the poet is a direct and real 
expression of himself in terms at once forceful and choice 
and no mere reflection of some fashionable pose. Even in 
these early years he was the pioneer of realism in English 
poetry. In his middle period he was a leading force in 
those dramatic circles from which was to emerge that 
realist literature so aptly characterized by Dean Church; 
so that, whoever the real author of Shakespeare's work 
may have been, that work represents the triumph of the 
De Vere spirit in poetry over the movement which claimed 
Sidney as its head. It will also be the triumph of his ma- 
tured conceptions over his youthful compliance with con- 
ventional standards, in so far as he may have complied 
with them; some measure of such compliance being almost 
inevitable in youth. 

We have already had to remark his restiveness under 


all kinds of restraints imposed by the artificiality of court 
life and his strong bent towards that Bohemian society 
within which were stirring the energetic forces making for 
reality, mingled with much evil in life and literature. 
Having been pre-eminent amongst the lyric poets in his 
early years, and prominent in the dramatic movement of 
his middle period, he is the natural representative and 
probably even the personal embodiment and original source 
of the transition by which the lyric poetry of the early days 
of Queen Elizabeth was merged in the drama of Eliza- 
beth's, and his own later years; and before he died he 
witnessed the beginning of the decline of that great dra- 
matic and literary efflorescence. These matters we believe 
to have a profound significance in relation to the problem 
before us. 

When the necessary matter Is readily accessible to the 

public It ought to be possible to read these verses of De 

Vere's alongside such contemporary poems as 

style and appear in Dr. Grosart's volumes. Then their 

Shake- distinctive qualities will be more than ever 

speare 3. JL. 

apparent. Poems by Sir Edward Dyer, Lord 

Vaux, The Earl of Essex and others, such as may be found 
In the "Fuller Worthies' Library," though by no means 
mediocre or negligible, lack the distinctiveness of De Vere's 
poetry and fail to grip and hold the mind In the same way 
as do these early productions of the Earl of Oxford. That 
terse epigrammatic style, on which all readers comment. Is 
the index of a mind that sees things In sharply defined out- 
line and fastens itself firmly on to realities, this being 
further assisted by a complete mastery over the resources 
of the language employed, so that Ideas do not have to 
force themselves through clouds of words. 

If to these qualities we add an intense sensibility to all 
kinds of external impressions, and a faculty of passionate 
response, brought to the service of clear. Intellectual per- 
ceptions we shall have seized hold of the outstanding fea- 
tures of De Vere's mentality. The result Is the production 


of poems which Impress the mind with a sense of their unity. 
The ideas cohere, following one another in a natural 
sequence, and leave in the reader's mind a sense of com- 
pleteness and artistic finish. 

That this concinnity is characteristic of Shakespeare's 
mind and work needs no insisting on at the present day. 
It is one of the distinctive marks of the individual sonnets 
of Shakespeare and we fear a much rarer feature of re- 
flective poems than it ought to be; the lack of it being 
responsible for that distressing feeling of "jumpiness" so 
frequently experienced in reading works of this order. In 
this matter of cohesion and unity we have certainly met 
with no similar correspondence between Shakespeare and 
any other of the many Elizabethan poets whose work we 
have been constrained to read in the course of this enquiry, 
nor any other poet with the same vast range of sentiment 
between charming love lyric and violently passionate verses. 

Again, as there are no hazy atmospheres about the 
Images which such a mind employs and no words are wasted 
in struggling to define, we get quite a wealth 
of images presented to the mind in rapid sue- imagery^ ° 
cession. In reading the poems of De Vere, 
as in reading the works of Shakespeare, one lives in a world 
of similes and metaphors. In both cases there Is a wealth 
of appropriate classical allusions; but this Is mingled 
harmoniously with an equal wealth of illustration drawn 
from the common experiences and what appear like the 
personal pursuits of life. 

Allied possibly to these mental qualities Is the colour 
consciousness which Is observable in both groups of writings. 
There is also the attendant sensibility to flowers, the favour- 
ite flowers in both cases being the lily, the rose, and the violet. 

Turning from these mental Indications to the matter 
of moral dispositions, we find in the poems the Impress 
of a character quite above what one would gather either 
from the biography In the Dictionary of National 
Biography, or from the scattered references to him In other 


works. There is, moreover, in addition to the poems in 

^ f ,, Dr. Grosart's collection, a letter written by 

Oxford s , ' ^ 

character in the Earl of Oxford and attached to one of the 

his writings. u- i, • r • ^ i-u 

poems, which gives us a ghmpse into the na- 
ture of the man himself as he was in these early years. 
Whatever may have been the pose he thought fit to adopt 
in dealing with some of the men about Elizabeth's court, 
this letter bears ample testimony to the generosity and 
largeness of his disposition, the clearness and sobriety of 
his judgment, and the essential manliness of his actions and 
bearing towards literary men whom he considered worthy 
of encouragement. His poems may in a measure reflect 
the mannerisms of his day, but in the letter we get a glimpse 
of the man himself; and if he comes to be acclaimed as 
Shakespeare this letter will be an invaluable treasure as the 
first, and it may prove the only, Shakespearean letter bear- 
ing upon literary matters and cast in literary form, if we 
except the dedications of his poems to Southampton. The 
fragments we get of Oxford's letters in the Calendered 
State Papers and other contemporary manuscripts are gen- 
erally in a formal business cast with only occasional poetic 
or literary flashes. 

As a letter it is, of course, prose; but it is the prose of 
a genuine poet: its "terse ingenuity," wealth of figurative 
speech, and even its musical quality being al- 
pros^^ ^ most as marked as they are in his verse. We 

subjoin a few passages, asking the reader to 
consider that the writer was but twenty-six years old when 
the letter was published. It has reference to a translation 
that had been submitted to him, though apparently not in- 
tended for publication, but which was published by his 
orders — presumably, therefore, at his expense. 

"After I had perused your letters, good Master Bed- 
^, ingfield, finding in them your request far dif- 

Bedingfield fering from the desert of your labour, 1 could 

not choose but greatly doubt, whether it were 

better for me to yield to vour desire or execute mine own 



intention towards the publishing of your book. . . . 

"At length I determined it were better to deny your 
unlawful request, than to grant or condescend to the con- 
cealment of so worthy a work. Whereby, as you have been 
profitted in the translating, so many may reap knowledge 
by the reading of the same. . . . What doth it avail a 
mass of gold to be continually imprisoned in your bags and 
never to be employed to your use : I do not doubt even 
you so think of your studies and delightful Muses. What 
do they avail if you do not participate them to others? 
. . . What doth avail the vine unless another delighteth 
in the grape? What doth avail the rose unless another 
took pleasure in the smell? .... 

"Why should this man be esteemed more than another 
but for his virtue, through which every man desireth to 
be accounted of? . . . 

"And in mine opinion as it beautifyeth a fair woman 
to be decked with pearls and precious stones, so much more 
it ornifyeth a gentleman to be furnished in mind with glit- 
tering virtues. 

"Wherefore considering the small harm I do to you, the 
great good I do to others I prefer mine own intention to 
discover your volume before your request to secret the 
same. Wherein I may seem to you to play the part of the 
cunning and expert mediciner. ... So you being sick 
of so much doubt in your own proceedings, through which 
infirmity you are desirous to bury your work in the grave 
of oblivion, yet I am nothing dainty to deny your request. 
... I shall erect you such a monument that in your life- 
time you shall see how noble a shadow of your virtuous life 
shall remain when you are dead and gone. . . . Thus 
earnestly desiring you not to repugn the setting forth of 
your own proper studies. 

"From your loving and assured friend, 



We ask our readers to familiarize themselves thoroughly 
with the diction of this letter, and then to read the dedica- 
tion of "Venus and Adonis." So similar is the style that 
it is hardly necessary to make any allowance for the seven- 
teen intervening years. 

Whilst, then, we find him paying high compliments to 
a literary man, from whom he could expect no return, at 
the time when others were penning extravagant eulogies 
to the Queen, we have not a single line of poetry from the 
pen of Oxford, ministering to the royal vanity, and this 
notwithstanding the high place he undoubtedly held in the 
queen's regards and her indulgence of what seemed to 
others like a provocative wilfulness in him. This absence 
of compliments to royalty is also characteristic of the 
Shakespeare work, and has been the occasion for much sur- 
prised comment. 

Reviewing the present chapter as a whole it will be 
recognized that to the remarkable set of resemblances with 
which we dealt in the last chapter, must now 
results ^^ added an equally remarkable set of corre- 

spondences in the general literary situation 
and in the leading characteristics of Shakespeare's and De 
Vere's writings. And when the value of the authorities 
cited is duly weighed it will be readily conceded that, what- 
ever may be said for the rest of the argument, it cannot 
be urged that in dealing with the question of Shakespearean 
honours, we are inviting the public to consider the claims 
of one who can be lightly brushed aside, as in any way "out 
of the running." 


The Lyric Poetry of Edward de Vere 

Up to this point we have sought to rest our case upon the 
judgment of men of some authority in EUzabethan litera- 
ture. Another step, however, requires to be taken in which 
there is distinctly new ground to be broken, and where, 
therefore, such external support can hardly be looked for. 
This decisive step is to bring the writings of Edward de 
Vere alongside the Shakespearean writings, in order to 
judge whether or not the former contain the natural seeds 
and clear promise of the latter. As this has never been 
done before, being indeed the special outcome of the particu- 
lar researches upon which we are at present engaged, no 
outside authority is available; and, therefore, all we can 
hope to do is to submit such points for consideration as 
may give a lead in this new line of investigation, by which 
eventually, we believe, our case will either stand or fall. 

So far as forms of versification are concerned De Vere 
presents just that rich variety which is so noticeable in 
Shakespeare; and almost all the forms he 
employs we find reproduced in the Shake- stanza^ 
speare work. When his contemporary spoke 
of his excellence in "the rare devices of poetry" we recog- 
nize at once his affinity with the master poet, and the dis- 
tinction between him and his rival Sidney, who headed a 
party that brought ridicule upon themselves by attempts 
to set up artificial rules that would have fettered the de- 
velopment of our national poetry. Towards such tongue- 
tying of art by authority Oxford was instinctively antago- 
nistic, and the rich variety of poetic forms, even in this 
small collection, is the natural result of the free play he 



allowed to his genius. At the same time Oxford had his 
partialities, and the six-lined pentameter stanza, with 
rhymes as in "Venus and Adonis," was undoubtedly a 
favourite with him; since it appears in seven out of the 
twenty-two pieces that have been preserved. How great a 
favourite it was with "Shakespeare," has perhaps not been 
pointed out before. In addition to its employment for the 
first of the two long poems we find it frequently used in 
his plays. "Romeo and Juliet" has two such stanzas: the 
play, in fact, ending with one of them. We find it also 
in "Love's Labour's Lost," "A Midsummer Night's 
Dream," "The Taming of the Shrew," and "The Comedy 
of Errors." In "Richard 11" it occurs worked into the 
text in such a way as easily to escape detection; the six 
lines beginning: 

"But now the blood of twenty thousand men." 

(Act III, s. 2.) 

As it is not the only case of this kind it is probable that 
it may be found in other plays not mentioned above. These 
plays, it will be observed, belong mainly to what is re- 
garded as Shakespeare's early work. 

This particular form of stanza we were tempted at 
one time to call the De Vere stanza; for although Chaucer 

^, has a six-iined stanza it is quite different from 

The poems . . , p 

of this. Spenser uses it m the first part or the 

Lord Vaux. "Shepherd's Calendar"; but De Vere's work 
in this form had been before the public for some years be- 
fore the "Shepherd's Calendar" appeared. There is, how- 
ever, one possible competitor for the honour; and the men- 
tion of his name will introduce an interesting little point 
which may have a bearing upon our argument. In Dr. 
Grosart's collection, the poet whose work immediately pre- 
cedes that of De Vere is Thomas Lord Vaux, the repre- 
sentative of another old family whose ancestor, like De 
Vere's, had "come over with the Conqueror"; a family in- 
teresting to people in the North of England as having been 


lords of Gilsland. Some doubt seems to exist as to whether 
the poet was really Thomas Lord Vaux, who was a genera- 
tion older than Edward De Vere and who died in 1562, or 
his son William, who was De Vere's contemporary. It is 
possible that both father's and son's work appear mingled 
together in Dr. Grosart's collection, but the collector him- 
self pronounces emphatically and exclusively In favour of 
the elder man. In this case the honour of inventing this 
particular stanza must belong to Thomas Lord Vaux unless 
an earlier poet should subsequently be found using it. What 
Is of special interest is that this particular form of verse is 
not the only thing that De Vere appropriates from Lord 
Vaux. Although his own poetry Is of quite a superior order 
to that of his aristocratic forerunner In verse making, a 
close comparison of the two sets of verses as they stand 
together In this important collection leaves little room for 
doubt that, when as a young man De Vere began to write 
poetry he was strongly under the Influence of Shakespeare 
Lord Vaux' work. If he did not actually, as and 
is natural to youth, take Lord Vaux as his 
model. Now, by a curious chance, the last poem In the 
"Vaux" collection, the poem therefore that Immediately 
precedes the De Vere collection. Is the identical song of 
Lord Vaux' which ''Shakespeare" adapts for the use of the 
gravedigger In "Hamlet." This may not have much weight 
as evidence. Nevertheless, if it can be maintained, as It 
reasonably may, that Edward de Vere in his earliest poetic 
efforts built upon foundations that Lord Vaux had laid, 
then the reappearance of an old song of Lord Vaux', In 
Shakespeare's supreme masterpiece, forty years after the 
death of the writer of the song, Is certainly not without 
significance as part of our general argument. 

Before leaving this question of the six-lined stanza we 
would point out that one feature common to the De Vere 
and the Shakespeare work is the appearance of single 
Isolated stanzas. For example, the only stanza In "The 
Taming of the Shrew" Is in this form; and no less than 


three of the poems in De Vere's small collection are single 
stanzas of this kind. A fondness for other six-lined stanzas 
differing in small details from this one is also characteristic 
of both sets of work. It is curious, too, how often "Shake- 
speare," even in his blank verse, casts a speech or a thought 
into a set of six lines. 

Turning now to the question of the theme or subject 
matter of De Vere's poetry, we find that whatever its sur- 
face appearance, its underlying interest is al- 
tifeme^^ ways, as in Shakespeare, human nature. In 

handling this theme figures of speech bor- 
rowed from the classics and taken for the most part from 
Ovid are as copious and are introduced as naturally as 
the ordinary words of his mother-tongue, illuminating his 
thought as aptly as any homely simile. At the same time 
we find the same Shakespearean wealth of illustration drawn 
from the common objects about him: ordinary flowers; 
common materials like glass, crystal, amber, wax, sugar, 
gall and wine, and a host of other things; the deer, hawks, 
hounds, the mastiff, birds, worms, the bee, drone, honey, 
the stars, streams, hill, tower, cannon, and so on. All these 
images crowd his lines, not as themes in themselves, but as 
similes and metaphors for handling his central theme of 
human life and human nature. 

So far as the natural disposition of the writer is con- 
cerned, it is fortunate for the name of Edward de Vere 
that we have these poems collected by Dr. 
Grosart and the letter included in the collec- 
tion. The personality they reflect is perfectly in 
harmony w^ith that which seems to peer through the 
writings of Shakespeare, though in many ways out of agree- 
ment with what Oxford is represented as being in several 
of the references to him with which we have met. There 
are traces undoubtedly of those defects which the sonnets 
disclose in "Shakespeare," but through it all there shines 
the spirit of an intensely affectionate nature, highly sensitive, 
and craving for tenderness and sympathy. He is a man 


with faults, but stamped with reality and truth; honest even 
in his errors, making no pretence of being better than he 
was, and recalling frequently to our minds the lines in one 
of Shakespeare's sonnets: 

"I am that I am, and they that level 
At my abuses reckon, up their own." 

As one reads the poems and then recalls particular 
references to him one feels that injustice has somehow been 
done, and that a great work of rectification is urgently 
needed, quite apart from the question of Shakespearean 

We shall now proceed to place side by side some pass- 
ages from Edward de Vere's poetry and others from 
'^Shakespeare's" writings which illustrate their correspond- 
ence either in mentality or literary style. 

Beginning with the poem on "Women" already given 
in full, we note first of all its similarity to Shakespeare's 
work in the general characteristics of diction, 
succinctness, cohesion and unity; and also in havvk^^ 
the similes employed. The word "haggard," 
a wild or imperfectly trained hawk, is the word which 
naturally arrests the attention of the modern reader. Now 
"Shakespeare" uses it five times, and out of these no less 
than four are when he uses the word as a figure of speech 
In referring to fickleness or Indiscipline in women. In 
"Othello" it is used identically as in the poem by De Vere, 
meaning a woman who "flies from man to man." 

"If I do find her haggard, 
Though that her jesses were my dear heart strings, 
I'd whistle her off, and let her down the wind 
To play at fortune" (III, 3). 

Even the sentiment and idea are exactly the same as in 
De Vere's poem : 

"Like haggards wild they range, 
These gentle birds that fly from man to man. 


Who would not scorn and shake them from the fist 
And let them fly, fair fools, Vvhich way they list?" 

In the same poem he speaks of making a "disport" of 
^'training them to our lure," which is quite suggestive of 
this from "The Taming of the Shrew" (IV. i) ; 

"For then she never looks upon her lure. 
Another way I have to man my haggard. 
To make her come and know her keeper's call." 

Again De Vere speaks of the subtle oaths, the fawning 
and flattering by which men "train them to their lure" in 
exactly the same vein as that in which Hero in "Much Ado" 
says (III. i) : 

"Then go we near her, that her ear lose nothing 
Of the false sweet bait that we lay for it. 
I know her spirits are as coy and wild 
As haggards of the rock." 

In making this comparison we have not had before us 
a large number of instances out of which it was possible to 
select a few that happened to be similar. What we have 
in this instance is, as a matter of fact, a complete accord- 
ance at all points in the use of an unusual word and figure 
of speech. Indeed if we make a piece of patchwork of all 
the passages in Shakespeare in which the word "haggard" 
occurs we can virtually reconstruct De Vere's single poem 
on "Women." Such an agreement not only supports us in 
seeking to establish the general harmony of De Vere's work 
with Shakespeare's, but carries us beyond the immediate 
needs of our argument; for it constrains us to claim that 
either both sets of expressions are actually from the same 
pen, or "Shakespeare" pressed that licence to borrow, which 
was prevalent in his day, far beyond its legitimate limits. 
In our days we should not hesitate to describe such passages 
as glaring plagiarism, unless they happen to come from 
the same pen. 

We shall take next some verses from a poem already 


referred to in a passage quoted from the "Cambridge 
History of Literature." This is the "charm- 

T *1 ^ 

ing lyric" there mentioned, entitled "What damask rose. 
Cunning can express?" and which appeared 
in "England's Helicon" in 1600 as "What Shepherd can 
express?" How these and others of Oxford's verses have 
escaped for so long the attention of the compilers of 
anthologies is one of the mysteries of literature. 

"The Lily in the field 

That glories in his white, 
For pureness now must yield 

And render up his right. 
Heaven pictured in her face 
Doth promise joy and grace. 

Fair Cynthia's silver light, 

That beats on running streams. 
Compares not with her white, 

Whose hairs are all sunbeams. 
So bright my Nymph doth shine, 
As day unto my eyne. 

With this there is a red 

Exceeds the Damaske-Rose, 
Which in her cheeks is spread; 

Whence every favour grows. 
In sky there is no star 
But she surmounts it far. 

When Phoebus from his bed 

Of Thetis doth arise, 
The morning blushing red 

In fair Carnation wise, 
He shows in my Nymph's face 
As Queen of every grace. 

This pleasant Lily white, 

This taint of roseate red. 
This Cynthia's silver light, 

This sweet fair Dea spred, 
These sunbeams in mine eye. 
These beauties make me die." 

This is the only poem in the De Vere collection in which 
the writer lingers tenderly and seriously on the beauty of 


a woman's face; and in it, it will be observed, his whole 
treatment turns upon the contrast of white and red, the lily 
and the damask rose. 

It is a striking fact then that the only poem of "Shake- 
speare's" in which he dwells at length in the same spirit 

upon the same theme is dominated by the 
of Luc^ecJ identical contrast. This is the set of stanzas 

in which he deals with the beauty of Lucrece 
(Stanzas 2, 4, 8, 9, lo, 1 1 ) . Indeed, there is hardly a term 
used by De Vere in the poem quoted above which is not 
reproduced in these stanzas. Whilst drawing special atten- 
tion to the red and white contrast, and to the general 
similarity in tone and delicacy of touch, we also put in 
italics a number of the subordinate outstanding words that 
appear in both poems. 

Stanza 2. 

"To praise the clear unmatched red and white 
Which triumph'd in the sky of his delight. 
Where mortal stars' as bright as heaven's beauties, 
With pure aspects did him peculiar duties." 

Stanza 4. 

"The morning's silver melting dew 
Against the golden splendour of the sun." 

Stanza 6. 

"So rich a thing hraznng compare.'* 

Stanza 8. 

"When beauty boasted blushes, in despite 
Virtue would stain that o'er with silver white." 

Stanza 10. 

"This heraldry in Lucrece's face was seen, 
Argued by beauty's red and virtue's white 
Of either colour was the other queen." 

Stanza 11. 

"This silent war of lilies and of roses, 
Which Tarquin view'd in her fair face's field." 

Stanza 1 1 brings to a close this poem on the beauty of 
Lucrece; but the conception which dominates it is main- 


talned throughout the work to which it belongs. It occurs 
in stanza 37 : — 

"First red as roses that on lawn we lay, 
Then white as lawn the roses took away." 

Stanza 56. 

"Her lily hand her rosy cheek lies under." 

Stanza 6g. 

"The colour of thy face, 
That even for anger makes the lily pale, 
And the red rose blush at her own disgrace." 

That all this belongs to the personality of "Shake- 
speare" himself will be seen from the following quotations 
from the sonnets : — 

"Nor did I wonder at the lily's white. 
Nor praise the deep vermillion of the rose." 

(Sonnet 98.) 
"The lily I condemned for thy hand, 
And buds of marjoram had stol'n thy hair. 
The roses fearfully on thorns did stand, 
One blushing shame, another white despair, 
A third, nor red nor white had stol'n of both." 

(Sonnet 99.) 
"I have seen roses damask'd red and white. 

(Sonnet 130.) 

It also appears In the play of "Corlolanus" (II. i) : 

"Our veiled dames commit the war of white and damask." 

And in "Love's Labour's Lost" (I. 2) : 

"If she be made of white and . red 
Her faults will ne'er be known, etc." 

"A dangerous rhyme, my masters, against the reason of white 
and red." 

In "Venus" this red and white contrast is mentioned no 
less than three times In the first thirteen stanzas. 


Finally we have this from "The Passionate Pilgrim,'' 
"The which bears more than one mark of Shake- 

Passionate spearean or De Vere influence, if not of 

Pilgrim." ^^ , 

actual origm: 

"Fair is my love but not so fair as fickle, 
Mild as a dove, but neither true nor trusty. 
Bright as a glass and yet as glass is, brittle. 
Softer than wax, and yet as iron rusty; 
A lily pale with damask dye to grace her, 
None fairer nor none falser tO' deface her." 

This is not the place to discuss the mystery of Jaggard's 
piratical publication. We insert this particular stanza be- 
cause, if it was not "Shakespeare's," it at any rate shows 
what was considered at that time to be characteristic of 
Shakespeare's work. It will be noticed that it is in the 
familiar "Venus" stanza; it turns upon the idea of femi- 
nine fickleness; it brings in the lily and damask contrast; 
at the same time the similes of glass and wax are distinctive 
of De Vere's work. Though the stanza contains figures 
and phrases suggestive of De Vere or Shakespeare, as a 
piece of versification it is quite inferior in several points. 
It looks rather like a piece of patchwork from De Vere's 
poems; and if this is what it really is, to have it put for- 
ward as Shakespeare's work suggests that Jaggard either 
knew or suspected that De Vere was "Shakespeare." In 
this connection it is interesting to note that the folio edition 
of Shakespeare, which was published just a generation 
later, was printed by some one with a different Christian 
name but with the same unusual surname of Jaggard. Sir 
Sidney Lee ascribes the printing to the same man, who had 
associated his son with the issue of the later work. 

Returning to De Vere's verses the outstanding word is 
"damask," associated with the "damask rose." In the 
small collection of his poems this word oc- 
rose. ^^^^ ^^^^ twice, and in Shakespeare the word oc- 
curs six times, one of which is of doubtful 
Shakespearean origin. On both of the occasions on which 


De Vere uses the word It has reference to a woman's com- 
plexion, and In four out of the five times when "Shake- 
speare" uses the word it is used in precisely the same con- 

Before leaving this matter it will be well at this point 
to emphasize a principle which is vital to the argument 
contained In this chapter: namely, that we 
are not here primarily concerned with unity.^ ' 
the mere piling up of parallel passages. 
What matters most of all Is mental correspondence 
and the general unity of treatment which follows from 
it. Of this, the poem by De Vere, and the set 
of stanzas from "Lucrece," form an excellent example 
to begin with. Here we have what are virtually two 
complete poems upon one theme, dominated by an 
identical conception, permeated by precisely the same 
spirit, illustrated by the same imagery and clothed in a 
remarkably similar vocabulary. Such a comparison, it 
hardly needs pointing out, stands on a totally different plane 
from the Baconian collations of words and phrases. The 
kind of criticisms which have quite justly been levelled at 
these mere text-gathering labours do not, we believe, apply 
to the main body of the comparisons treated In this chapter. 

Turning now from such details of workmanship as have 
governed the above comparison we may now consider a 
more general matter: his treatment of the ^ , 

subject of Love. We find first of all in these difficulties 

1 r T^ Tr » i.t_* r« and troubles. 

early poems of De Vere s somethmg very tar 
removed from the conventional or weakly sentimental ex- 
pressions of affection then in vogue. In some of Philip 
Sidney's early poetry this kind of thing becomes positively 
silly. In De Vere's work on the other hand we have a 
firmly knit personified treatment of Love In the abstract, 
the dominant notes of which are as unaffected as they are 
Shakespearean. There is, In particular, a set of lyrics 
highly praised by more than one writer, which are in the 
form of a dialogue with ''Desire." The prominence of 


this word and idea in the work of "Shakespeare" and of 
De Vere will receive special attention later: for the pres- 
ent we shall simply take a few lines from the latter as 
bearing upon the theme of Love : 

"Is he god of peace or war? 
What be his arms? What is his might? 
His war is peace, his peace is war, 
Each grief of his is but deUght; 
His bitter ball is sugared bliss. 
What be his gifts? Kow doth he pay? 
Sweet dreams in sleep, new thoughts in day. 
Beholding eyes, in mind received. 

>K ^ ^ 

What labours doth this god allow? 
Sit still and muse to make a vow. 
Their ladies if they true remain. 


Why is he naked painted? Blind? 

^ ^ ^ 

' Though living long he is yet a child^ 

A god begot beguiled. 

* * * 

When wert thou born, Desire? 

In pride and pomp of May. 

^ ^ ^ 

What was thy meat and daily food? 

Sad sighs and great annoy. 

* * * 

What hadst thou then to drink? 
Unfeigned lovers' tears. 

As part of our work is to represent the process of in- 
vestigation, it may be worth while to indicate its operation 

in this instance. When the contents of De 
Midsummer Vere's poem had become quite familiar as a 

Night's^^ result of repeated reading, the next step was 

to select the plays of "Shakespeare" in which 
we were most likely to find the substance of this poem de- 
posited. Amongst these, "A Midsummer Night's Dream" 
naturally occupied a foremost place. After then, the reader 
has, in his turn, thoroughly familiarized himself with these 
lines let him refer to "A Midsummer Night's Dream" 
(I. i) and begin reading from, "The course of true love 


never did run smooth," continuing to the end of the scene 
and noticing specially such expressions as the following: — 

"True lovers have been ever cross'd." 

* * * 

"It is a customary cross 
As due to love as thoughts and dreams and sighs, 

Wishes and tears." 

* * * 

"By all the vows that ever men have broke 

In number more than women ever spoke." 

* * 5(5 

"We must starve our sight from lover's food." 

* * * 

"Love looks not with the eyes but with the mind." 

* * * 

"Therefore is winged Cupid painted blind." 

* * ^: 

"Therefore is Love said to be a child 
Because in choice he is so oft beguiled.^* 

As De Vere's lines are from lyrics on Desire it is Inter- 
esting to note that the word "desire" occurs no less than 
three times In the part of the scene that precedes the lines 
we quote from "Shakespeare," whilst the idea of Desire 
presides over the whole scene. In both cases we have 
passing allusions to the skylark and the month of May, 
revealing not only a similar concatenation of Ideas, but also 
of their associated words and figures of speech. Had the 
lines been culled from different parts of De Vere's work on 
the one hand, or from different parts of Shakespeare's on 
the other, their force w^ould not have been the same. It is 
the unity of treatment In each case and a similarity extend- 
ing to Identical words and even rhymes ("Child" with 
"beguiled") which Is so suggestive of a single mind at work 
In both cases: a theory strengthened by the absence of any- 
thing analogous in the work of contemporary poets. 

This Is further supported by the appearance of similar 
rhetorical forms in dealing with the same 
theme. In "A Midsummer Night's Dream" ^Jmrariness. 
we have the following: — 

Hernia. The more I hate the more he follows me. 
Helena. The more I love the more he hateth me. 


In another poem of De Vere's we have the following: — 

"The more I followed one the more she fled away 
As Daphne did, full long ago, Apollo's wishful prey. 
The more my plaints I do resound the less she pities me." 

This idea of Love's contrariness runs right through the 
poem of De Vere's from which the last lines are quoted; 
and we might almost describe "A Midsummer Night's 
Dream" as a burlesque on the same idea. With the two 
passages just quoted in mind turn to Act II, scene i, in the 
play, and read the encounter between Demetrius and 
Helena, where the former enters with the latter following 

D. "Get thee gone and follow me no more. Do I not in plainest 

truth tell you I do not nor I cannot love you." 
H. "And even for that do I love you the more. The more you beat 

me, I will fawn on you: only give me leave, unworthy as I am 

to follow you. Run when you will, the story shall be changed; 

Apollo runs and Daphne holds the chase." 

Here again it will be noticed we have an exact corre- 
spondence in conception, heightened by the introduction of 
Apollo and Daphne in both cases; and Demetrius's treat- 
ment of Helena's "plaints" is exactly described in De Vere's 

"The more my plaints I do resound the less she pities me." 

A most signal instance of the essential unity of the two 
sets of work we are now comparing, is presented in con- 
nection with this idea of "Desire." By far 
the longest of De Vere's poems, contammg 
no less than nineteen stanzas, and representing nearly a 
quarter of the entire collection of his poetry, is on this 
theme : a theme which frequently reappears in the other 
three quarters. 

As to its position in Shakespeare's works it will suffice 
to quote the following passage from Mr. Frank Harris's 
work on "The Man Shakespeare" : — 


"Shakespeare gave Immortar expression to desire and 
its offspring, love, jealousy, etc. . . . Desire, in especial, 
has inspired him with phrases more magically expressive 
even than those gasped out by panting Sappho." 

In De Vere's work, again. Desire is personified just as 
we find It In stanzas loi and 102 of Shakespeare's 
"Lucrece"; and the word "desire" ranks, for Importance, 
in the vocabulary of the great dramas, with the word 
"will," to which, as Sir Sidney Lee points out, it was closely 
aUied in Shakespeare's day. This single word, then, forms 
an Important bridge between the two sets of writings; and, 
by itself, makes quite a significant addition to the evidence 
in support of a common authorship. 

In a somewhat different strain Is "Shakespeare's" treat- 
ment of Love in the dialogue between Valen- 
tine and Proteus in "The Two Gentlemen of p^^^Uies. 
Verona." (I. i) : 

"To be in love where scorn is bought with groans, 
Coy looks with heart-sore sighs, one fading moment's mirth 
With twenty watchful weary tedious nights. 
If haply won perhaps a hapless gain; 
If lost why then a grievous labour won: 
However, but a folly bought with wit 
Or else a wit by folly vanquished. 

As in the sweetest bud 
The eating canker dwells, so eating love 
Inhabits in the finest wits of all. 

By love the young and tender wit 
Is turn'd to folly . . . 
Losing all the fair effects of future hopes. 

* * * * 

But wherefore waste I time to counsel thee 

That art a votary to fond Desire? 

* " * * * 

Made me neglect my studies, lose my time, 

War with good counsel, set the world at nought; 

Made wit with musing weak, heart sick with thought. 

Again we must ask the reader first of all to make him- 
self thoroughly familiar with these lines, noticing the wit 
and folly paradoxes, wasted time, defeated hopes, and, 


though last not least, the concluding rhyme. Now compare 
this with the following from two of De Vere's poems: — 

"My meaning is to work 
What wonders love hath wrought; 
Wherewith I muse why men of wit 
Have love so dearly bought." 

"It's now a peace and then a sudden war, 
A hope consumed before it is conceived. 
At hand it fears; it menaceth afar; 
And he that gains is most of all deceived. 

Love whets the dullest wits, his plagues be such, 
But makes the wise by pleasing dote as much. 

"Love's a desire, which, for to wait a time. 
Doth lose an age of years, and so doth pass 
As doth a shadow sever'd from his prime, 
Seeming as though it were, yet never was. 
Leaving behind nought but repentent thought 
Of days ill spent on that which profits nought." 

Here again we have an exact correspondence short of 
mere transcription, even to the extent of an identical rhyme; 
whilst Valentine's raillery of his friend, that he had be- 
come "a votary to Fond Desire," is redolent of De Vere's 
verses on this theme, which finish with the words: 

"Then Fond Desire farewell, 
Thou art no mate for me, 
I should be loath, methinks, to dv/ell. 
With such a one as thee." 

As a final remark on the question of love, we shall 
merely point out, that, if the reader wishes to have a sum- 
mary of Edward de Vere's treatment of the subject, let 
him turn to Shakespeare's "Venus and Adonis" and read 
the first five of the last ten stanzas of the poem, in which 
Venus is prophesying the fate of love. 

When the passages we have quoted are weighed care- 
fully side by side, phrase by phrase and word by word, 
hardly any one will question the similarity 

Love poems of mind behind them, and most people, 

we believe, will agree that there are 

striking resemblances of expression. Exact repetition, of 


course, Is not to be looked for; for one of the astonishing 
features of "Shakespeare's" work is the freshness and con- 
stant variety maintained throughout so great a mass of 
writing. But, to the modest contention that one contains 
the possible germs of the other, few readers will have any 
difficulty in acceding. An intensified interest in De Vere's 
work will doubtless cause everything he has written to be 
subjected to a most careful scrutiny, and its comparison spe- 
cially with the lyric work of Shakespeare with appropriate 
allowances for the differences between early and matured 
work will probably settle conclusively the claims we are 
now making on his behalf. 

x\s reflecting the correspondence, alike in mental con- 
stitution and general literary style in another Oxford's 

vein, take first of all the following three mental 

1 r 1 • i_ r ^i_ • distraction, 

verses, each or which rorms the openmg 

stanza of a separate poem of De Vere's: — 

"Fain would I sing but fury makes me mad, 
And rage hath sworn to seek revenge on wrong. 
My mazed mind in malice is so set 
As death shall daunt my deadly dolours long. 
Patience perforce is such a pinching pain, 
As die I will or suffer wrong again." 

"If care or skill could conquer vain desire, 
Or reason's reins my strong affections stay, 
There should my sighs to quiet breast retire, 
And shun such sights as secret thoughts betray; 
Uncomely love, v/hich now lurks in my breast 
Should cease, my grief by wisdom's power oppress'd." 

"Love is a discord and a strange divorce 
Betwixt our sense and rest; by w^hose power. 
As mad with reason we admit that force 

Which wit or reason never may " (word lost through 

an obvious misprint in Dr. Grosart's collection). 

We would draw attention first to the "double-barrelled 
alliterations" contained especially in the first of these 
stanzas — an artifice of Shakespeare's upon which writers 
have commented. 


We have quoted stanzas from three separate poems ui 
order to show that the frame of mind they express — a rest- 
lessness of the emotional nature — was charac- 
speare's" teristic of the poet. Now take the sentiment 

mental and manner of expression represented by the 

distraction. 111 1 

three stanzas as a whole and compare them 

with the following passages from two of Shakespeare's 

sonnets (140 and 147) : — 

1. "For if I should despsiir I should grow mad, 

And in my madness might speak ill of thee, 
Now this ill-wresting world is grown so bad 
Mad slanderers by mad ears believed be." 

2. "My reason, the physician to my love, 

Hath left me, and I desperate now approve; 

Desire is death, which, physic did except. 

Past cure I am now reason is past care, 

And frantic mad with evermore unrest. 

My thoughts and my discourse as madmen's are 

At random from the truth, vainly expressed; 

For I have sworn thee fair and thought thee bright 

Who are as black as hell and dark as night." 

We might safely challenge any one to find in the whole 
range of Elizabethan literature another instance of a poet 
expressing the same kind of thought and feeling in lines 
of the same distinctive quality as is represented by the two 
sets here presented for comparison. Unsupported by any 
other evidence they would justify a very strong ground of 
suspicion that Edward de Vere and "Shakespeare" were 
one and the same man. It is of first importance to keep in 
mind that the lines here quoted from "Shakespeare" are not 
extracted from a drama, but are from the most realistic 
of personal poetry. Even those who would deny an autobio- 
graphical significance to many of the sonnets admit the in- 
tensely realistic character of the particular group from 
which the above are taken. We have therefore, in each 
case, the simple and direct expression of the private mind 
of the poet in a vein so distinctive as to leave hardly any 
room for doubt that both are from one pen. 


Of rhetorical forms common to the two sets of writings, 
a minor point is a fondness for stanzas formed of a suc- 
cession of interrogatives for the expression of 
strong emotion. Indeed, in the De Vere tlveY^°^^" 
work, we have an entire sonnet formed of a 
series of questions. It is the only sonnet in the collection; 
and the most important point about it is that it is in the 
form which we now call the Shakespearean sonnet. This 
is an important matter and must receive attention in an- 
other connection. We shall, therefore, give a stanza in 
the interrogative form from another poem. 

"And shall I live on earth to be her thrall? 
And shall I live and serve her all in vain? 
And shall I kiss the steps that she lets fall? 
And shall I pray the gods to keep the pain 
From her that is so cruel still? 
No, no, on her work all your will." 

Similar series of interrogations occur here and there 
throughout the most impassioned parts of "Lucrece" ; and 
in the Shakespearean part of "Henry VI," part 3 (III. 3), 
we have the following: — 

"Did I forget that by the house of York 
My father came untimely to his death? 
Did I let pass the abuse done to my niece? 
Did I impale him with the regal crown? 
Did I put Henry from his native right? 
And am I guerdon'd at the last with shame?" 

(A six-lined fragment of blank verse.) 

It is difficult to read these two sets of lines side by side 
without a feeling that both are from the same pen, and 
when, in the same play, we find Queen Margaret answering 
her own question with a repeated negative, resembling the 
last line of Oxford's stanza, the resemblance is most 

"What's worse than murderer that I may name it? 
No, no, my heart will burst an if I speak." 

(3 Henry VI, v. 5.) 


Continuing these comparisons of style we would ask the 
reader to turn to "Lucrece," and commence reading from 
stanza 122, which begins: — 

"Why should the worm intrude the maiden bud?" 

and read on to stanza 141, which begins: — 

"Let him have time to tear his curled hair." 

In addition to the two stanzas which illustrate the succes- 
sion of questions just dealt with, he will notice quite a 
number of stanzas in which each line, in its opening phrase, 
is but the repetition of a single form. Stanza 127, for 
example, has lines beginning: — 

"Thou makest," "Thou blow'st," "Thou smother'st," 
"Thou foul abettor," "Thou plantest," "Thou ravisher." 
Stanza 128: — 

"Thy secret pleasure," "Thy private feasting," etc. 
Stanza 135 : — 

"To unmask falsehood," "To stamp the seal," etc. 
Similar stanzas are also found in other parts of the poem. 
Stanza 82 : — 

"By knighthood," "By her untimely fears," etc. 
Stanza 95 : — 

"Thou nobly base," "Thou their fair life," etc. 

Or, in stanzas 106 and 107, where it takes the form of 
alternate lines : 

"He like a thievish dog," "She like a wearied lamb," 

Now De Vere's poem from which we last quoted is 
composed of six six-lined stanzas almost entirely built up 
in this way: the stanza already given and also: 
Stanza i : — 

"The trickling tears," "The secret sighs," etc. 

Stanza 3 : — 

"The stricken deer," "The haggard hawk," etc. 

Stanza 4: — 

"She is my joy," "She is my pain," etc. 


Then, as a final comparison of verses so constructed, 

we shall place side by side the last stanza in the series from 

"Lucrece" (114), with the last stanza in this 

. ^ TT , 1 • I.' u ^u A closing 

poem of De Vere's: the stanza m which the malediction. 

poet, or respective poets, wind up with a 

closing malediction : 

Shakespeare's ''Lucrece''; stanza 141: 

"Let him have time to tear his curled hair. 
Let him have time against himself to rave, 
Let him have time of Time's help to despair. 
Let him have time to live a loathed slave, 
Let him have time a beggar's orts to crave, 
And time to see one that by alms doth live. 
Disdain to him, disdained scraps to give." 

De Vere's ''Rejected Lover" : 

"And let her feel the power of all your might, 
And let her have her most desire with speed, 
And let her pine away both day and night, 
And let her moan and none lament her need. 
And let all those that shall her see 
Despise her state and pity me." 

Again we repeat, if these are not both from the same 
pen, never were there two poets living at the same time 
whose mentahty and workmanship bore so strikmg a re- 
semblance. Traces of this kind of work may, no doubt, be 
found in Chaucer, and there can be little doubt that De 
Vere was under the influence of Chaucer's poetry; it is also 
one of the literary forms he seems to have learnt from Lord 
Vaux, to which reference has already been made, but in 
De Vere, and in Shakespeare's "Lucrece," it assumes a 
marked development, and in the verses just cited, produces 
a startling correspondence quite unparalleled, so far as 
we know, in the poetry of the time. 

So striking is the similarity of the two stanzas quoted 
above that it hardly seems possible to further strengthen 
the case they represent; and yet, in the stanza immediately 


preceding that quoted from ^'Lucrece" the following line 
occurs : 

"To make him moan, but pity not his moans." 

This is almost identical with De Vere's line: 

"And let her moan and none lament her need." 

The former is hardly entitled to be called even a para- 
phrase of the latter, so nearly a copy is it. Again we point 
out that we have not had to search the pages of "Shake- 
speare" to find the selected line, but that it stands in im- 
mediate juxtaposition to the particular stanza under con- 
A peculiar sideratlon. A comparison of these two verses, 

literary taken along with the particular line, entitles 

us to say that "Shakespeare" was either a 
kind of literary understudy of De Vere's, guilty of a most 
unseemly plagiarism from his chief, or he was none other 
than the Earl of Oxford himself. 

As an example of a very unusual literary form of De 
Vere's, reproduced In Shakespeare, we give the following: — 

De Fere: 

"What plague is greater than the grief of mind? 
The grief o£ mind that eats in every vein, 
In every vein that leaves such clots behind, 
Such clots behind as breed such bitter pain. 
So bitter pain that none shall ever find 
What plague is greater than the grief of mind?" 

This repetition of the last phrase of each line In the 
succeeding line occurs in "The Comedy of Errors" 

(1. 2):— 


"She is so hot because the meat is cold; 
The meat is cold because you come not home; 
You come not home because you have no stomach; 
You have no stomach having broke your fast; 
But we that know what 'tis to watch and pray 
Are penitent for your default to-day." 


(The reader will notice that this is again one of the six- 
lined passages in which Shakespeare frequently indulges, 
even when he does not work them into finished stanzas.) 

No one will deny that each line in the above stanza of 
De Vere's is eminently Shakespearean in diction, whilst the 
idea and sentiment are quite familiar to 
Shakespeare readers. "The grief of mind," ',i[ind"°^ 
or, as we would say, the distress that 
has its roots in mental constitution, temperament, or 
mood, rather than in external misfortune, is a thoroughly 
Shakespearean idea. We have it in the opening words of 
the "Merchant of Venice" : 

"In sooth I know not why I am so sad, 
It wearies me, you say it wearies you. 
But how I caught it, found it, or came by it, 
What stuff 'tis made of, whereof it is born 
I am to learn. 

And such a want-wit sadness makes of me 
That I have much ado to know myself." 

We have it again in "Richard 11" in the dialogue be- 
tween the Queen and Bushy (Act II. 2) : 

"I know no cause 
Why I should welcome such a guest as grief. 
My inward soul with nothing trembles. 
Each substance of a grief hath twenty shadows 
Which shows like grief itself but is not so. 

Howe'er it be 
I cannot be but sad; so heavy said 
As, though on thinking on no thought I think. 
Makes me with heavy nothing faint and shrink. 
For nothing hath begot my something grief, 
Or something hath the nothing that I grieve." 

All this is eminently suggestive of that undercurrent of 
constitutional melancholy which has been remarked in 
"Shakespeare," and is quite a noticeable feature of the Earl 
of Oxford's poetry. 

In Shakespeare's sonnets there occur several references 


to the disrepute into which the writer had fallen, along 

with an expressed desire that his name should 

Loss of good ^g buried with his body — a fact quite incon- 
name. -' . 

sistent with either the Stratfordian or the 
Baconian theory of authorship, but a strong confirmation 
of the theory that William Shakspere was but a mask for 
some one who desired personal effacement. From those ex- 
pressions we need only quote one : 

"When in disgrace with Fortune and men's eyes, 
I, all alone, heweep my outcast state, 
And trouble deaf heaven^ with my bootless cries, 
And look upon myself and curse my fate, . . ." 

(Sonnet 29) 

When the reader has made himself familiar with the 
numerous passages in the sonnets dealing with the same 
theme (sonnets 71, 72, 81, no, in, 112, 121), let him 
compare them, and especially the words italicized above, 
with the following from De Vere's poem on the loss of his 
good name, published between 1576 and 1578: 

"Fram'd in the front of forlorn hope past all recovery, 
I stayless stand to abide the shock of shame and infamy. 

Jjc :?: 5|c 

My spirtes, my heart, my wit and force in deep distress are drown'd, 

The only loss of my good name is of those griefs the ground. 

* * * 

Help crave I must, and crave I zmll, with tears upon my face, 

Of all that may in heaven or hell, in earth or air be found. 

To wail with me this loss of mine, as of those griefs the ground." 

Personally I find it utterly impossible to read this poem 
of Edward De Vere's and the sonnets in which "Shake- 
speare" harps upon the same theme, without an overwhelm- 
ing sense of there being but one mind behind the two utter- 
ances. Indeed this fact of "Shakespeare" being a man who 
had lost his good name ought to have appeared in our 
original characterization. Inattention, and some remnants 
of the influence of the Stratfordian tradition, which has 


treated this Insistent Idea as a mere poetic pose, probably 
accounts for Its not appearing there. 

Edward de Vere's poem on the loss of his good name, 
and Shakespeare's sonnets on the same theme, are the only 
poems of their kind with which we have met In our reading 
of Elizabethan poetry — the only poems of their kind, we 
believe, to be found In English literature. The former, 
written at the age of twenty-six, and whilst still smarting 
under the sense of Immediate loss. Is more Intense and 
passionate In Its expression, and Is full of the unrestrained 
Impetuosity of early manhood. The latter Is more the 
restrained expression of a matured man who had In some 
measure become accustomed to the loss; and would as a 
matter of fact, whoever the writer, be written when Oxford 
was forty years of age or over. Even then Oxford's words, 
"I stayless stand" are almost repeated In Shakespeare's "I 
all alone"; Oxford's "Tears upon my face" seems referred 
to In Shakespeare's "Beweep my outcast state"; and Shake- 
speare's "Troubling deaf heaven with bootless cries" Is 
exactly descriptive of what Oxford did In his early poem. 
Is this all mere chance coincidence? 

A significant detail In the two poems under review Is 

the proneness to floods of tears which both Illustrate. This 

Involuntary manifestation of a supersensitive ..^ , ., „ 

nature and a highly strung temperament Is and 

1 1 r r T-v \7- ? weeping, 

quite a marked feature of De Vere s poetry 

and Is repeated more than once in the "Shakespeare" son- 
nets. It is curious, also, that "Shakespeare's" two heroes 
of tragic love, Romeo and Othello, though differing in many 
particulars, are both subject to the same weakness. The 
play of "Othello," we shall have to show later, deals with 
events which, as we believe, occurred about the time when 
Oxford's poem was written; and It is a remarkable circum- 
stance that it is this play which contains Shakespeare's well- 
worn lines on the loss of good name : 


"Good name in man or woman, dear my lord. 
Is the immediate jewel of their souls. 
Who steals my purse steals trash, .... 
But he who filches from me my good name, 
Robs me of that which not enriches him, 
And makes me poor indeed." 

And SO, first one thing and then another fits into its place 
with all the unity of an elaborate mosaic the moment we 
introduce Edward de Vere as the author of the Shake- 
speare writings. Is this too the merest coincidence? 

Of works in a totally different vein take now this from 
a poem of De Vere's: — 

"Faction that ever dwells 
In court where wit excels _ 

Hath set defiance. 
Fortune and love have sworn 
That they were never born 

Of one alliance. 

* * * 

Nature thought good, 
Fortune should ever dwell 
In court where wits excel, 

Love keep the wood. 

* * * 

So to the wood went I, 
With Love to live and die, 
Fortime's forlorn." 

Shakespeare's play, "As You Like It," it will be recog- 
nized, is but a dramatic expansion of this idea, and contains 
such significant touches as the following: — 

This from the dialogue between Rosalind and Celia 
(Act I, s. 2) : — 

"Let us mock the good housewife Fortune." 

"Nay now thou goest from Fortune's office to Nature's: Fortune 

reigns in gifts of the world, not in the lineaments of Nature." 

* * * 

"Nature hath given us wit to flout at Fortune." 


"Peradventure this is not Fortune's work but Nature's, who per- 
ceiveth our natural wits too dull." 

Later we have the Duke's remark and the reply of Amiens 
(Act II, s. i) : — 

"Are not these woods more free from peril than the envious court?" 

* * * 

"Happy is your grace 

That can translate the stubbomess of Fortune 
Into so quiet and so sweet a style?" 

It is not merely that there appear together the ideas 
of Nature, Fortune, Love, court-life and life in the woods, 
in the two sets of writings under review — ideas which may 
possibly be as recurrent in other writings of the times as 
they are in Shakespeare's. It is rather the similarity in the 
peculiar colligation of ideas, and also the correspondence 
of such chance expressions as De Vere's "Fortune's For- 
lorn" and Shakespeare's "Out of suits with Fortune," which 
give a stamp of fundamental unity to the two works. 

There are minor points of similarity, which though 
insignificant in themselves, help to make up that general im- 
pression of common authorship which 
comes only with a close familiarity with pity^^^ °^ 
the poems as a whole. Of these we 
may specify the recurrence of what seems to us a curious 
appeal for pity. From two separate poems of De Vere's 
we have the following: — 

"And let all those that shall her see 
Despise her state and pity me." 

"The more my plaints I do resound 
The less she pities me." 

And from Shakespeare's sonnets we take these: — 

"Pity me and wish I were renewed" (iii). 
"The manner of my pity — v/anting pain" (140). 
"Thine eyes I love and they as pitying me" (132). 
"But if thou catch my hope, turn back to me. 
And play the mother's part, kiss me, be kind." (143) 


In making this parallel between the work of Edward 
de Vere and Shakespeare we shall turn now to an example 
g, , which carries us back to the beginning of our 

speare's enquiry. Starting wath Shakespeare's lyric 

o poe poetry, we fastened upon "Venus and Adonis'' 

as furnishing the connecting link between the two sections 
of work. Reverting now to this poem we find, in the first 
place, it contains all the imagery of these early works of 
De Vere's and then one of the most striking parallels we 
have noticed so far. 

In "Venus and Adonis" we have the following verses 
on the "Echo." Venus is bemoaning her troubles and the 
echo is answering her (Stanzas 139-142) : — 

"And nozi' she beats her heart zi'Jiereat it groans, 
That all the neighbour caves, as seeming troubled. 
Make verbal repetition of her moans; 
Passion on passion deeply is redoubled: 
*Ay me!' she cries, and twenty times 'Woe, woel' 
And twenty echoes twenty times cry so. 

"She marking them begins a wailing note, 

And si)igs cxtcmporally a "ucoefid ditty; 

How love makes young men thrall and old men dote. 

How love is wise in folly, foolish witty: 

Her heavy anthem still concludes in 'Woe.' 

And still the choir of echoes answers 'So.' 
# ^ * 

"Tor who hath she to spend the night withal. 
But idle sounds resembling parasites, 
Like shrill-tongued tapsters answering every call. 
Soothing the humour of fantastic wights? 
She says "Tis so'; they answer all, "Tis so'; 
And would say after her if she said 'No!' " 

(We observe in passing in the second stanza a repetition 
of the wit and folly paradox.) 

We shall now give Edward de Vere's echo poem in full. 

It IS one of the most quaintly conceived and most skilfully 

executed pieces of versification, and hardly 

Echo^poem admits of curtailment. To enjoy it fully the 

reader must remember that "Vere," retaining 

its French sound, is pronounced somewhat like the word 


"bare," and the last syllable in words like "fe^'er" and 
"qui^^r" must, in this instance, be given the same full 
sound. Oxford's name, we may remark, frequently appears 
in old records as "Ver." 


Sitting alone upon my thoughts in melancholy mood, 

In sight of sea, and at my back an ancient hoary wood, 

I saw a fair young lady come her secret fears to wail, 

Clad all in colour of a nun, and covered with a veil. 

Yet (for the day was calm and clear) I might discern her face, 

As one might see a damask rose hid under crystal glass. 

Three times zcitk her soft hand full hard on her left side she knocks, 

And sighed so sore as wight have made some pity in the rocks. 

From sighs and shedding amber tears into sweet song she brake, 

When thus the Echo answer'd her to every word she spake. 

Oh heavens, who was the first that bred in me this feirr?— Vere. 

Who was the first that gave the wound, whose fear I wear for 

ever? — Vere. 
What tyrant, Cupid, to my harm, usurps thy golden quiver?— 

What wight first caught this heart, and can from bondage it^ 

deliver? — Vera. 

Yet who doth most adore this wight, oh hollow caves tell true?— 

What nymph deserves his liking best yet doth in sorrow rue?— 

What makes him not reward good will with some reward or 

ruth? — Youth. 
What makes him show besides his birth such pride and such un- 
truth? — Youth. 

May I his favour match with love if he my love will try?— Ay. 
May I requite his birth with faith? Then faithful will I die?— Ay. 

And I that knew this lady well, said, Lord, how great a miracle. 
To her how Echo told the truth as true as Phoebus oracle. 

After studying these two poems carefully and com- 
paring specially the words in italics, then recaUing De 

Vere's poem on "Women" turning upon the 

^ , I , 1 1 • • Romeo and 

simile of the haggard hawk and keeping in j^jjet^ 

mind that in De Vcre's Echo poem we have 

a young woman making the caves re-echo with her lover's 


name, consider now the speech that "Shakespeare" puts into 
the mouth of Juliet : — 

"Hist! Romeo hist! Oh for a falconer's voice 
To lure this tassel-gentle back again. 
Bondage is hoarse and may not speak aloud, 
Else would I tear the cave zvhere Echo lies 
And make her airy tongue more hoarse than mine 
With repetition of my Romeo's name." (II, 2.) 

(A six-lined fragment of blank verse.) 

In presence of such a correspondence in the work as 
these verses present, it seems almost like a waste of ei^ort 
to add further comparisons; and yet, so redolent of De 
Vere's work is this particular play of Shakespeare's that we 
feel compelled to draw attention to parallel passages like 
the following: — 

De Vere: 

(I) "that with the careful culver, climbs the worn and withered 

To entertain my thoughts, and there may hap to moan, 

That never am less idle, lo! than when I am alone." 

Shakespeare ("Romeo and Juliet," I. i) : 

"He stole into the covert of the wood 
I, measuring his affections by my own, 

That most are busied when they're most alone." 

De Vere: 

"Patience perforce is such a pinching pain." 

Shakespeare ("Romeo and Juliet," I. 5) : 

"Patience perforce . . . makes my flesh tremble." 

De Vere: 

"His bitter ball is sugared bliss." 

Shakespeare ("Romeo and Juliet," I. i) : 


"A choking gall and a preserving sweet 
Now seeming sweet convert to bitter gall." (I. 5.) 

De Vere: 

*0 cruel hap and hard estate, 
That forceth me to love my foe." 

Shakespeare ("Romeo and Juliet," I. 2) : 

"Prodigious birth of love it is to me 
That I must love a loathed enemy." 

Returning now to the "Venus" echo verses we find that 
they are immediately followed by this: — 

"Lo! here the lark, weary of nest, 
From his moist cabinet mounts up on high, 
And wakes the morning from whose silver breast 
The sun ariseth in his majesty; 
Who doth the v/orld so gloriously behold, 
That cedar tops and hills seem burnished gold" (s. 143). 

To this add the following line from "Romeo and Juliet" : — 
"It was the lark the herald of the morn." (III. 5)- 

Now compare this Shakespearean work with che follow- 
ing from De Vere : — 

"The lively lark stretched forth her wings 
The messenger of morning bright; 
And with her eheerfnl voice did sing 
The Day's approach discharging Night. 
When that Aurora blushing red 
Descried the guilt of Thetis' bed" 

This again suggests the following from "Romeo and 
Juliet" :— 

"Many a morning hath he there been seen 


But all too soon as the all-cheering sun 

Should in the furthest east begin to draw 

The shady curtains from Aurora s bed, etc." (I. i.) 


"Romeo and Juliet" also contains two separate six- 
lined stanzas (on the Lord Vaux model), and also what 
are probably the first of the Shakespearean sonnets — which 
are, as already mentioned, identical in form with the only 
sonnet that appears in De Vere's early poems. 

Another matter, which is not poetical, deserves to be 
mentioned here. It must have struck many people as 

strange that Juliet at the time of her mar- 
child-wife riage should be represented as a mere child 

of fourteen. There is no special point in the 
play to necessitate having one so young for the tragical 
part she had to play. Extraordinarily young as she was, 
however, she was the actual age of De Vere's wife at the 
time of their marriage: the ceremony being merely post- 
poned until her fifteenth birthday was reached. 

We must now recall the fact that when we selected De 
Vere as the possible author of Shakespeare's plays and 

^, poems, and found that he satisfied the es- 

The poems ... 

and the sential conditions of our original characteriza- 

enquiry. ^-^^^ ^^^ l^^^ ^^ knowledge w^hatever of these 

poems of his, almost every line of which we now find 
paralleled in Shakespeare. To discover such a correspond- 
ence in the poems under such circumstances furnishes, to the 
discoverer at any rate, a much greater weight of evidence 
than if he had been acquainted with the writings at the 
outset. It will be observed that, in making these com- 
parisons, the passages quoted from Shakespeare which are 
suggestive of Oxford's early poetry belong mainly to what 
is accepted as Shakespeare's early work, such as "Venus," 
"Lucrece," "The Two Gentlemen of Verona," and "Romeo 
and Juliet." On the other hand the traces of the De Vere 
poetry in the later Shakespearean work are very slight. 
This, it will also be remembered, is in precise accordance 
with the principle which guided us in the first stages of our 
search, namely, that it would be the poet's early work 
which would appear under his own name, and that it would 
be found to link itself on to the earliest Shakespearean 


work. Again, as the De Vere collection is only a small 
one, it will be seen, from the number of poems quoted, that 
practically the whole of the De Vere work is deposited, as 
it were, in Shakespeare. The evidence furnished by such 
parallelism must not, however, be viewed alone ; it must be 
connected specially with the testimony which literary au- 
thorities have given us as to the specific qualities of De 
Vere's poetry adduced in the preceding chapter. It must 
also be connected with these important considerations of 
chronology which allow the early career of Oxford to fit 
in exactly with later production of the "Shakespeare" 
dramas, and to all this must also be added the fact of his 
presenting in his person so many of the conditions and 
attributes which recent Shakespearean study has assigned to 
the great dramatist. The reader should then ask himself 
whether it would be common sense to keep on believing that 
all this is mere accident. 

If from reading the echo poem of De Vere with its 
quaint and delicate humour, the reader will turn to such 
verses as those beginning, 

"Fain would I sing, but fury makes me J^^^lf ^"^ 
mad," or, 

"Fram'd in the front of forlorn hope," 
and then again recall the fact that Edward de Vere, in his 
work for the stage, is reported as being "the best in comedy" 
in his day, he will get an idea of the striking combination 
of humour and tragedy in the nature and work of this re- 
markable man. All the startling contrast of high comedy 
and profound tragedy which stands out from the pages of 
Shakespeare finds its counterpart in the work of De Vere, 
as we shall also find it does in his actual life. With this 
in mind, let it be recalled that, at the very moment when 
Shakespeare was writing the sonnets, with all their tragic 
depth, and with hardly a trace of lightheartedness, reveal- 
ing a soul darkened by disappointment, disillusionment and 
self-condemnation, he was also preparing for the stage plays 
which for three hundred years ha\e, by their exquisite fun. 


supplied the world with inexhaustible laughter. We read 
some of the sonnets and we feel that the writer must have 
been the most despairing of pessimists. 

"Give notice to the world that I am gone 
From this vile world with vilest worms to dwell." 

We turn to the comedies he wrote for the stage, and 
we think of him as the merriest of men. Which was the 
real Shakespeare? The Shakespeare revealed in the sonnets 
or the Shakespeare revealed in the comedies? Probably 
neither by itself. The sonnets are, however, direct per- 
sonal poetry; the comedies are literature and stage plays. 
The natural assumption, therefore, is that in his inmost 
life he was more the Shakespeare of the sonnets than of 
the comedies. If, therefore, we suppose that "Shake- 
speare" is Edward de Vere, we find him expressing himself 
directly on the point in the following lines : — 

"I am not as I seem to be, 
For when I smile I am not glad, 
A thrall, although you count me free, 
I, 7nost in mirth, most pensive sad. 
I smile to hide my bitter spite, 
As Hannibal that saw in sight, 
His country's soil with Carthage town, 
By Roman force defaced down." 

We give the entire stanza in order that, in passing, its 
structure may be noted. It will be seen that it is identical 

in metre and rhyme with Shakespeare's poem 
A possible -VVhen daisies pied and violets blue," with 

which "Love's Labour's Lost" finishes (leav- 
ing out, of course, the interjected word "cuckoo"). The 
observant reader may notice, too, that the latter poem is 
preceded by the words, ''Fer^ begin"; and remembering 
that Oxford's name was very frequently spelt "Ver," he 
will be able to imagine the elation which w^ould have ap- 
peared in certain quarters, if, in this the first Shakespearean 
play, for such it is considered, there had occurred the 
words, "Bacon, begin." 


Another stanza In the same poem of De Vere's runs 

thus : — 

"I Hannibal that smile for grief 
And let you Ceasar's tears suffice, 
The one that laughs at his mischief 
The other all for joy that cries. 
I smile to see me scorned so, 
You weep for joy to see me woe." 

This IS at once suggestive of the lines in "Lear" (I. 4) •— 

"Then they for sudden joy did weep 
And I for sorrow sung." 

Returning to our theme, one of the most penetrating 
of observers amongst writers on Shakespeare, Richard 
Bagehot, although believing in the essential gaiety of the 
poet's nature, remarks that "all through his works there 
is a certain tinge of musing sadness pervading, and as it 
were softening their gaiety/' exactly as Edward de Vere 
described himself in the former of the above stanzas. This 
is just what we might expect to find in a writer whose life 
had been saddened, but who preserved by a deliberate effort 
his appreciation of fun; whose self-command enabled him 
to throw aside the burden of melancholy and revel for a 
while in the enjoyment of his own lighter faculties, but 
who, throughout it all, never quite forgot the sadness that 
lay at the bottom of his soul, and who, when the special 
effort was over, would swing back upon himself with an 
intensified sense of his own inner sufferings. These are 
just the conditions to yield that remarkable combination of 
tragedy and comedy which distinguishes Shakespeare, and 
they are the conditions, too, most likely to be furnished by 
the nature and circumstances of Edward de Vere. 

Viewing the lyric work of Edward de Vere as a whole 
we feel justified in claiming that it contains much more 
than a possible promise of the work of Shakespeare. What 
is wanting to it is the vast and varied knowledge of human 
nature depicted In the Shakespearean dramas. This de- 


mands a wide and Intense experience of life; a life involving 
loss as well as gain ; and the years intervening between the 
two sets of works, years in which he was busy with his 
troupes of play-actors, the "Oxford Boys," would certainly 
be full of such experience to him. x\nd if we assume the 
identity of Oxford with "Shakespeare" it must be conceded 
that one misses from the personal poems of Shakespeare, 
the sonnets, certain sweet and "gracious" touches contained 
in the early personal poems of De Vere, whilst one meets 
also with some harsher and more defiant notes. The iron 
had evidently entered more deeply into his soul, his nature 
had become in a measure "subdued to what it worked in, 
like the dyer's hand," but out of the tragedy of his own 
life were born the imperishable masterpieces in tragic drama 
that will probably remain for all time the supreme glory 
of English literature. 

In working out our investigations we found, first of all, 
a remarkable set of coincidences between the circumstances 

of Edward de Vere and the conditions 
Tevie\v. which w^e supposed to pertain to the 

writer of Shakespeare's dramas. Our last 
chapter showed us an equally remarkable set of coincidences 
connected with the general literary position and the 
dominant qualities of Oxford's poetry. The chapter we 
are now finishing, the most critical in the piecing together 
of the case, reveal's what we claim to be a most extraordi- 
nary correspondence in the details of the work. 

When, therefore, the poems of De Vere shall have be- 
come familiar to English readers, it will not be surprising 
if those who are thoroughly intimate with Shakespeare's 
work are able to detect much more striking points of simi- 
larity than any that are here Indicated. It must, however, 
be kept In mind that the value of these correspondences de- 
pends not so much upon the striking character of a few 
of them, which might conceivably be matched elsewhere, but 
upon the cumulative effect of them all. Taken In their 


mass then, we believe that sufficient has already been made 
out, which, supported as it is by the other lines of our argu- 
ment, leaves little room for doubt that the problem of the 
authorship of Shakespeare's works has at last been solved. 
Valuable as Is the other evidence which we have been able 
to collect, we might have hesitated for a very long while 
before venturing, on the strength of that alone, to assume 
the responsibility of claiming publicly that we had suc- 
ceeded In identifying Shakespeare. Now, however, that 
we have been able to examine the early poetry of De Vere, 
and subject It to a careful comparison with the early Shake- 
spearean work, It has become Impossible to hesitate any 
longer in proclaiming Edward de Vere, Seventeenth Earl 
of Oxford, as the real author of "Shakespeare's" works. 


The Records and Early Life of Edward de Vere 

"Horatio, I am dead; 
Thou livest; report me and my cause aright 

To the unsatisfied. 

* * * 

If ever thou didst hold me in thy heart 
Absent thee from felicity awhile, 
And in this harsh world draw thy breath in pain 
To tell my story." 

Hamlet (V. 2). 

"An unlifted shadow somehow lies across his 

Dr. Grosart. 

Authorities. The biographical records in the succeed- 
ing chapters are taken chiefly from the "Dictionary of Na- 
tional Biography"; "Historical Recollections of Noble 
Families," by Arthur Collins; "The Great Lord Burleigh," 
by Martin Hume; "The House of Cecil," by G. Ravens- 
croft Dennis; "Histories of Essex," by Morant and 
Wright; "The Hatfield Manuscripts"; and "Calendars of 
State Papers." 


The Reputation of the Earl of Oxford 

Following the general scheme of the investigation as 
outlined at the beginning of this work, it will be well to re- 
call at this point the nature of the phase with which we 
are at present occupied, and the exact stage of it now 
reached. The fifth step being to proceed from the man 
chosen to the works of Shakespeare, in order to see to 



what extent the man is reflected in the works, the com- 
parison of the two sets of writings just concluded forms the 
natural introduction to this phase of the enquiry. Con- 
tinuing this step our next business must be to examine, in 
whatever detail possible, the life and circumstances of the 
man in order to ascertain how far they, too, relate them- 
selves to the contents of, and the task of producing, the 
Shakespearean plays and poems. 

In entering upon this series of biographical chapters 
we must remind the reader that the object of this work is 
twofold: to prove our case, and to help towards a fuller 
and more accurate view of the life and personality of the 
Earl of Oxford. Here our task is one of special difficulty, 
for our theory presupposes a man who had deliberately 
planned his self-concealment. Our material is bound, there- 
fore, to be as scanty as he could make it, and, at the outset, 
probably misleading. We shall, therefore, be under the 
necessity of reconstructing a personality from the most 
meagre of data, with the added disadvantage of a large 
amount of contemporary misrepresentation, which it will 
be necessary to correct. 

One naturally asks why the author of the great dramas 
should have wished to throw a veil over his identity as he 
did; and the strange thing about the matter 
is this, that, with the Shakespeare sonnets ^ncealment 
before us, we should have been so slow in 
framing this question and answering it satisfactorily. For, 
not merely in an odd sentence, but as the burden of some 
of his most powerful sonnets, he tells us in the plainest of 
terms, that he was one whose name had fallen into disrepute 
and who wished that it should perish with him. 

"No longer mourn for me when I am dead, 
Than you shall hear the surly sullen bell; 
Give warning to the world that I am fled 
From this vile world, with vilest worms to dwell; 
Nay, if you read this line, remember not 
The hand that v/rit it." 


"My name be buried v/here my body is, 
And live no more to shame nor me nor you." 

"Or I shall live your epitaph to make. 
Or you survive when I in earth am rotten. 
From hence your memory death cannot take, 
Although in me each part will be forgotten. 
Your name from hence immortal life shall have, 
Though I, once gone, to all the world must die." 

"Alas, 'tis true, I have gone here and there. 
And made myself a motley to the view." 

"Thence comes it that my name receives a brand." 

"Your love and pity doth the impression fill, 
Which vulgar scandal stamp'd upon my brow." 

When to all this we find him adding the fear 
"That every word doth almost tell my name," 

it is made as clear as anything can be that he was one who 
had elected his own self-effacement, and that disrepute was 

one, if not the principal, motive. We may. 
Disrepute. .^ . , . , ^ . 

ir we wish, question the sumciency or reason- 
ableness of the motive. That, however, is his business, not 
ours. The important point for us is that he has by his 
sonnets disclosed the fact that he, "Shakespeare," was one 
who was concealing his real name, and that the motive 
he gives, adequate or not, is one which unmistakably would 
apply to the Earl of Oxford; and would not apply in the 
same literal manner to any one else to whom it has been 
sought to attribute the Shakespeare dramas. If the Earl 
of Oxford had filled an exalted place in general estimation, 
it ought to have worked against the theory of authorship we 
are advancing. That he was one "in disgrace with Fortune 
and men's eyes" is what we should have expected, and is 
therefore an element of evidence in confirmation of our 

Under the Stratfordian and Baconian views mystifying 
interpretations have had to be read into the utterances just 
quoted. In spite of their intense reality and genuine autobio- 


graphical ring, they have been treated as cryptic poetry or 
mere dramatic pose; and one of our greatest difficulties 
will be to combat the non-literal constructions forced upon 
these poems. In the proper place we shall have to show 
that their contents are as real and literal as the spirit and 
temper of the works suggest. Puzzling, Shakespeare could 
undoubtedly be, as in the "Will" sonnets (135 and 136) 
where he is obviously dealing in enigmas. The curious 
thing is that he has been read seriously and literally when 
in a playful mood, by the same people who have treated 
passionate, heart-wrung utterances as mere freaks of fancy. 
When moving on the plane of experience his conceptions 
attain a deflniteness unequalled in poetry, whilst there has 
probably never been a writer capable of securing a more 
precise correspondence between a thought and its expres- 
sion. When, therefore, he tells us, in so 
many words, that "vulgar scandal" had biography in 
robbed him of his good name, and that *^^ Sonnets, 
although he believed his work would be immortal he 
wished his name to be forgotten, we are quite entitled to 
take his own word for it, and to demand no further motive 
for the adoption of a disguise. No mere nom de plume 
could have been so successful as his adoption of a mask: 
its success for over three hundred years will probably be a 
matter of astonishment for many generations to come. 

Had these sonnets been published by their author during 
his own lifetime they would have been absurd from the 
point of view of the particular contents we have just been 
considering. Imagine any man publishing, or allowing the 
publication under his own name, of documents In which he 
specifically states that he wished his name to be burled 
with his body! It is equally absurd to suppose that their 
author permitted the issue of documents implying that Wil- 
liam Shakspere was but a mask. They were, however, pub- 
lished during the lifetime of all the men to whom it has 
been sought to attribute their authorship: William Shak- 
spere, Francis Bacon, William Stanley and Roger Manners: 


but a^fter the death of Edward de Vere. The particular 
sonnets seem to belong to a date at which Oxford's fortunes 
were at about their lowest and when the motive assigned for 
hiding his name would be most applicable; the works being 
published under the mask would then be the two long poems 
published in 1593 and 1594. 

We do not maintain that the motive assigned in the 
sonnets was the only one that operated. By the time that 

^-^-^- - the mask was employed again, after an in- 

^derations" terval of four years during which some of 

the plays had appeared anonymously, there 
are evidences that Oxford was making efforts to retrieve his 
position socially as well as financially. When plays were 
being published under Shakespeare's name, Oxford was 
seeking to regain favour with the Queen and setting family 
influences to work to obtain for himself the position of 
governor of Wales. Needless to say to have appeared at 
the time in the role of dramatic author would have been 
completely fatal to any chances he may have had: for in 
those days "dramatic authorship was considered hardly 
respectable." And Oxford especially, having incurred his 
disgrace in the first instance by deserting the court for a 
Bohemian association with actors and play-writers, could 
only hope to recover his social position and secure an ap- 
propriate oflicial appointment, by being seen as little as 
possible in such connections. 

After Oxford's death his widow, a lady of private 
means, assisted by her brother, continued the struggle to 

recover for her son Henry, the eighteenth 
moTives. -'^^^^ ^^ Oxford, the prestige which had been 

lost to the family by the extraordinary career 
of his father. A legal case that arose out of this is a 
recognized landmark in the history of the law^ and shows 
clearly that the recovery of what had been lost had become 
a settled object of family policy. Even supposing, then, 
that they may not have considered themselv^es under a moral 
or contracted obligation to continue the secrecy, it would 


hardly have been in harmony with their general poHcy to 
have discontinued it. 

Although we have put forward these considerations with 
regard to motives, we must make it clear that no obligation 
to furnish motives rests upon an investigator in such a case 
as this. Motives are sometimes altogether impenetrable. 
Objective facts, and the evidence for the truth of such facts, 
form the proper material for enquiries like the present. 

From the biographer's point of view, however, all these 
considerations constitute a double difficulty. We have first 
to surmount the obstacles which an able in- 
tellect, bent on secrecy, would himself inter- nftfng.^ °^ 
pose between himself and the public; and then 
we must penetrate the mists of disrepute which he assures 
us had gathered round his name. Before this can be prop- 
erly done many years must elapse, and many minds must 
be interested in it: the correction of an erroneous estimate 
of an historic personality being one of the slowest of human 
processes. We make here only a first simple effort in that 

No one who is able to appreciate humanity's debt to 
"Shakespeare" can, under any circumstances, regard him as 
a man who has merited abiding dishonour. The world has 
taken to its heart men like Robert Burns and Moliere, 
whose lives have fallen far short of the pattern we could 
have wished for them. And if Edward de Vere is, as we 
have every reason to believe, the real "Shakespeare," the 
world will not be slow to allow the great benefits he has 
conferred upon mankind to atone for any shortcomings that 
may be found in him. Our task at the present, however, 
is to see him as he was, in so far as his character and the 
events of his life have a bearing upon our problem. Every- 
thing that comes before us in the form of mere traditional 
view, inference, or impression must be rigidly separated 
from ascertained facts; and even these will need to be ac- 
cepted cautiously and reinterpreted from the point of view 
of one great dominating possibility — that of his being en- 


dowed with the heart and genius of Shakespeare and of 
having produced the Shakespeare literature. 

If, for example, the Earl of Oxford was only a son-in- 
law of Lord Burleigh's, who had achieved nothing more 

,. , , noteworthy than the writing of a few short 

Need for re- , •' ° 

interpreta- lyrics, and had spent the best years or his lire 

^°"* in fruitless amusement with a company of 

play-actors, then we must judge him mainly by the part 
he played in the life of Burleigh. If, how^ever, the Earl of 
Oxford was Shakespeare, then he towers high above Lord 
Burleigh, and we shall have to judge Burleigh very largely 
by the part he played in the life of Oxford. Or if, in the 
domain of poetry, he is chiefly to be remembered as the 
man who called his rival, Philip Sidney, a "puppy,'^ we 
shall have to judge him by his bearing towards Sidney. If, 
however, Oxford was "Shakespeare," gifted with all Shake- 
speare's penetration into human nature, our interest will lie 
in discovering how far Sidney may have merited the epithet. 
Again, if, as we shall see was the case, we find that, as 
a young man, he begged to join the army; when that was 

refused him he begged to be allowed to join 
treatment. ^^^ navy; when that in turn was refused he 

begged to travel abroad; and w^hen, though by 
this time he was twenty-four years of age and married, that 
was also refused, so that he seemed condemned to spend 
his life hanging about the court, and finding the court life 
irksome, ran away to the continent, only to be brought back 
before he had had a chance of seeing anything of life, we 
may be able to agree with those who speak of him as 
being wayward, if we suppose him to have been incapable 
and an intellectual mediocrity. But if we suppose him 
possessed of the genius of Shakespeare, with Shakespeare^s 
capacity for experiencing life, and all that capacity as so 
much driving force within him, urging him to seek experi- 
ence of life; indeed, if we take into account nothing more 
than what is positively known of his powers as revealed in 
his poems and dramatic record, we shall be much more in- 


cllned to consider him a badly used man, the victim of most 
unfavourable circumstances and manifest injustice, with a 
very genuine grievance against the guardian and father-in- 
law, Burleigh, who had so persistently thwarted him. 

Finally, if, remembering the character borne by the 
play-actors of the time, as described in the passage we 
have quoted from Dean Church, we believe 
him to have wasted the best years of his life occupations 
in intimate, useless association with them, we 
shall be inclined to see in his conduct a manifestation of 
dissoluteness and to acquiesce in Burleigh's statement that 
he had been "enticed away by lewd persons." If, on the 
other hand, we believe that Oxford was Shakespeare, and 
that during these years he was hard at work, seriously, but 
in a measure secretly, engaged in the activities that have 
produced at once the greatest dramas and the finest litera- 
ture that England boasts, then the facts have a totally new 
light thrown upon them, and admit of a vastly different 
interpretation. For, the secrecy in which his work as a 
whole is involved would surely be maintained towards those 
who were out of sympathy with him, amongst whom we can. 
certainly place his father-in-law and probably his wife; all 
of which seems clearly alluded to in sonnet 48 : 

"How careful was I, when I took my way, 
Each trifle under truest bars to thrust, 
That to my use it might unused stay, 
From hands of falsehood, in sure wards of trust." 

We shall avoid, therefore, all unauthenticated stories 
which seem to have had their roots in personal animosity. 
Such particulars as are narrated in the Die- 

... . False stones. 

tionary of National Biography, that a certain 
man's "story that the Earl" did so-and-so, but that it "is 
not confirmed, and was warmly denied by" the very man 
whom he was reported to have injured. Is not biography. 
It serves to show, however, that he was the victim of false 
and unscrupulous calumny. When, therefore, we find great 
admirers of Philip Sidney, like Fulke Greville, Sidney's 


biographer, promulgating impossible stories about projected 
assassinations, and another antagonist making, almost in 
so many words, the same false charges that Oliver makes 
against Orlando in "As You Like It," we begin to realize 
the type of men with whom we are dealing; what freedoms 
the group of court adventurers, to whom Oxford was clearly 
hostile, had taken with his name and reputation; and how 
little reliance is to be placed generally upon their records 
either of their friends or of their enemies. 

It is unfortunate, then, that the names which predomi- 
nate in the article upon which we are dependent for so many 
of the facts of Oxford's life are those of people antagonistic 
to him, and most of the facts bear evidence of having come 
to us through these unfriendly channels. Anything which 
bears the mark of Burleigh, Fulke Greville, or Raleigh, the 
true type of the picturesque but unscrupulous adventurer of 
those days, must be suspect in so far as it touches Edward 
de Vere; and anything which research may be able to re- 
cover, that shall furnish us with the names and the opinions 
of his friends about the court, and, more important still, 
his dealings with men of letters, and with playwrights and 
actors, will be invaluable as tending to furnish us with a 
truer view of the man. So far as we can make out up to 
the present, however, his friends seem to have respected 
loyally his desire for personal oblivion, and have remained 
silent about him; thus, of course, allowing free currency to 
all that his enemies have been able to circulate to his dis- 

As this is not intended to be a complete biography, facts 
which do not appear relevant to the argument, either for 
or against it, and which, from some other consideration, 
might necessitate lengthy discussion, will, for the most part, 
be omitted. 


To illustrate again the curious way in which evidence 
has fallen into our hands, we would draw attention to the 


above reference to Oliver in "As You Like It." When we 
came across the murderous charges made against Oxford 
by Charles Arundel, the first thing that seemed to stand 
out was the name "Charles," and an evident vulgarity in 
the man, which brought Charles the wrestler, of "As You 
Like It," to the mind. Being somewhat "rusty" at the 
moment in reference to subordinate details in ihe play, the 
next thing was to look up the parts dealing with Charles 
the wrestler; only, of course, to find the same charges that 
Charles Arundel made against Oxford being insinuated by 
Oliver into the mind of Charles the wrestler. And so the 
parts of the mosaic keep fitting in. The jesting threats of 
Touchstone in the same play may therefore furnish the 
explanation of the charges made against Oxford: for prac- 
tical joking could hardly be above the dignity of the writer 
of some of "Shakespeare's" comedies, who, according to 
his own confession, had made himself "a motley to the 


The Ancestry of Edward de Vere 

It Is waste labour usually to trace the ancestral con- 
nections of literary men. It is themselves and what they 
accomplished that really matter, and literary biographies 
which go beyond this generally succeed in being tedious. 
In the case before us, however, these ancestral connections 
and the writer's attitude towards them are vital; so that 
some brief notice of the family of the De Veres is essential 
to the argument. 

The founder of the family was one Auhicy dc Vere 
(derived. It is supposed, from Ver near Baycux) who 
came to England with the Conqueror, and 
was rewarded for his support with extensive origins 
estates in Essex, Sufifolk, Cambridge, Hunt- 
ingdonshire and Middlesex; and "the continuance of his 
family In the male line, and its possession of an earldom 


for more than five and a half centuries have made its name 
a household word." During these centuries the vast estates 
of the family, as well as its titles and dignities, were further 
augmented by marriage or by royal favour. 

In the time of the anarchy which marked the reign 
of the Conqueror's grandson Stephen, the title of Earl of 
Oxford was bestowed by Matilda upon the representative 
of the family, another Aubrey (1142), whilst nine years 
prior to this a son or grandson of the founder, also of the 
same name, had been created Great Chamberlain. On the 
accession of Henry II the title conferred by Matilda was 
confirmed by the new monarch. Amongst the hereditary 
dignities obtained through marriage was that of Chamber- 
lain to the Queen, and the titles of Viscount Bolebec, Lord 
Sandford, and Lord Badlemere. Lyly in dedicating his 
"Euphues and his England" to Oxford, whom he addresses 
as his master, takes occasion to string all these various titles 

All through the long period of the Plantagenet kings, 
the lands, titles and dignities of the family were transmitted 
,.g- , through a succession of Aubreys, Johns, and 

speare" and Roberts, like so many representatives of a 
royal dynasty; and. In the reign of the last of 
the Plantagenets, Richard II, the Earl of Oxford, who was 
the royal favourite, was created a Marquis, being thus 
raised above all the rest of the nobility and ranked next to 
the King himself. This is the Robert, Earl of Oxford, 
mentioned In ordinary history text books as the favourite 
responsible partly for the troubles that befell the King, 
and who earned for himself a reputation of extreme dis- 

The personal relationship of Richard II to the Earl 
of Oxford of his day, and the honour he conferred upon 
^ , _ , the family, might account for "Shakespeare's" 

Earl Robert. ,. , • r r». 1 1 -r , 

slight partiality to Kichard, ir we suppose the 
former to have been a later earl of the same family; whilst 
the unfortunate character borne by Richard's favourite 



would explain the curious fact of his non-appearance in a 
play written by a member of the same house, one in whom 
family pride was a pronounced trait. For the character of 
this Robert, Earl of Oxford, of Richard IPs reign, made 
it impossible to introduce him without either immortalizing 
his infamy or of so altering the facts as to have betrayed 
the authorship. The silence of the author at this point is 
therefore even more significant than his utterances in the 
case with which we shall presently deal. For be it observed 
that Shakespeare deals with this very question of the per- 
nicious influence of evil associates upon Richard and leaves 
out all mention in this connection of the one particular evil 
counsellor that history has clearly recorded for us. Shake- 
speare, whoever he was, had evidently some special reason 
for screening the Earl of Oxford. He had not overlooked 
him, for at the end of the play the Earl is mentioned as 
having been executed for supporting the King* ; possibly 
the only thing in his favour that could be recorded. 

Edward de Vere's pride in his ancient ancestry is com- 
mented on by more than one writer; and so marked a 
feature of Shakespeare's is this regard for Shakespeare 
high and honoured birth, that one writer, be- and high 
lieving it to be written by the Stratford man, 
does not hesitate to speak of it as "snobbery." By what- 
ever name we may choose to call it, it is at any rate an out- 
standing mental trait which Edward de Vere and "Shake- 
speare" have in common. To have found it in one situated 
like the Stratford man would, however, have bespoken a 
measure of "snobbery" Inconsistent with the intellectual 
largeness of "Shakespeare." In the case of Edward de 
Vere It is merely the spontaneous fruit of centuries of family 
tradition and the social atmosphere into which he was born, 
and shows us that even the broadest minds remain more or 
less at the mercy of their social milieu. 

* Note. — In the First Folio edition "Spencer" is substituted for "Oxford." 
Such a substitution (not noticed until the above was in print) is very- 


We have had occasion already to point out that Shake- 
speare did not understand the "lower orders." What is 
even more striking is the fact that he did not understand 
the middle classes. Mr. Frank Harris, who, if our own 
theory of authorship be accepted, has, in many particulars, 
shown great sureness of psychological analysis, but who 
never expresses a single doubt as to the truth of the Strat- 
fordian position, asserts, in his work on "The Man Shake- 
speare," that Shakespeare did not even know the middle 
classes. "He utterly missed," he says, "what a knowledge 
of the middle classes would have given him," whilst "in 
all his writings he praises lords and gentlemen." And 
again, "Shakespeare, one fancies, was a gentleman by 
nature, and a good deal more,'' That one, like Shake- 
speare, whose studies of human nature rest so obviously 
upon observation, could both remain ignorant of his own 
class and also assimilate rapidly the characteristics and 
courtesies of another class is neither more nor less than a 
contradiction in terms. The logical conclusion is that 
"Shakespeare" was himself an aristocrat: a point on which 
anti-Stratfordians of all schools agree, and on which some 
Stratfordians, in return, most weakly try to make merry. 

It would unnecessarily overload these pages with quota- 
tions to give all that Shakespeare says on the question of 
high birth, whilst a few selected passages would not ac- 
curately represent the position. Some measure of its im- 
portance to him may, however, be gathered from the fact 
that he does honour to the idea in more than twenty separate 
plays. Now, a person may happen to be of high birth and 
yet be able to take a true measure of its value. In the 
case of Edward de Vere, howev^er, it would seem that he 
had the same exaggerated idea of its importance that we 
meet with in Shakespeare. And as we have chosen the play 
of "All's Well that Ends Well" to preside in great measure 
over the first part of our biographical argument, we would 
ask the reader to notice as an illustration of Shakespeare's 


attitude to this question how the idea of high birth domi- 
nates the whole of the play. 


The Earl of Oxford in the Wars of the Roses 

When the Wars of the Roses broke out, John de Vere, 
Twelfth Earl of Oxford, became, as we have already seen, 
a staunch supporter of the Lancastrian cause. In the early 
part of Edward IV's reign, whilst matters were still un- 
settled between the two parties, he was executed along with 
his eldest son, Aubrey de Vere, for corresponding with the 
defeated Queen Margaret. The title then passed to his 
second son, John, the Thirteenth Earl, who took part in 
the temporary restoration of Henry VI. For this he was 
attainted in 1474, but restored to his family honours on the 
defeat of the Yorkists and the accession of Henry Tudor. 

In relating these particulars to the plays of Shakespeare 
a strictly chronological parallel between the historical events 
and the plays is not possible. If, however, we take the four 
plays which deal specially with these wars, the three parts 
of "Henry VI," and the play of ''Richard III," we may say 
that "Henry VI," part i, deals niainly with the years prior 
to the outbreak of civil war, during which England was 
losing power in France through the heroism of Joan d'Arc, 
whilst the first rumblings of the coming storm in England 
w^ere distinctly heard. In "Henry VI," part 2, the tension 
becomes acute, and the opening phase of the conflict, that 
in which the Twelfth Earl of Oxford was prominent, forms 
the subject matter of part of the play. "Henry VI," part 
3, is concerned mainly with the short period of Henrys 
temporary restoration during the reign of Edward IV, end- 
ing in the overthrow of the Lancastrians and the murder 
of Henry VI. The play of "Richard III" is presented as 
the final triumph of the red rose over the white. 

Now of these plays, "Henry VI," part i, we are as- 


sured, Is probably not from Shakespeare's hand at all. 

gj^ , The same remark applies to "Henry VI," part 

and the Earls 2, and to a considerable portion even of 
of Oxford ^^^^y yj^n p^^^ ^ ^^^ ^^g^ Shakespear- 

ean work In this trilogy Is to be found, however, In the latter 
half of "Henry VI," part 3. "Richard III" is wholly 
Shakespearean. Turning then to "Henry VI," parts i and 
2, the non-Shakespearean plays, we find there Is no mention 
made whatever of the 12th Earl of Oxford; whilst, on com- 
ing to "Henry VI," part 3, we find a very prominent and 
honoured place given to John, the 13th Earl of Oxford, 
along with the striking fact that he does not make his ap- 
pearance on the stage until Act III, Scene 3. That Is to 
say, he is not brought Into these plays at all until he Is 
brought In by "Shakespeare" ; and then, which makes It still 
more striking, wx have very particular mention made of 
the father and brother who had laid down their lives in 
the Lancastrian cause, but who are completely ignored in 
the other two plays. In a word, the non-Shakespearean 
work ignores the Earls of Oxford, whilst the Shakespearean 
work gives them a leading and distinguished position. 
Oxford speaks: — 

"Call him my King, by whose injurious doom 
My elder brother, the Lord Aubrey de Vere, 
Was done to death? And more than so, my father, 
Even in the downfall of his mellow'd years, 
When nature brought him to the door of death? 
No, Warwick, no, while life upholds this arm, 
This arm upholds the house of Lancaster." 

Having been thus introduced Into the play he is hardly 
mentioned except to be praised: 

"And thou, brave Oxford, wondrous well beloved." 

"Sweet Oxford." 

"Where is the post that came from valiant Oxford?" 

"O cheerful colours! see where Oxford comes." 

"Oxford, Oxford, for Lancaster." 

"O! welcome Oxford, for we want thy help." 

"Why, is not Oxford here another anchor?" 


Then towards the close of the play, when King Henry 
\T blesses Henry of Richmond and names him as succes- 
sor to the throne, it is Oxford who, along with Somerset, 
arranges to send him to Brittany for safety, until "the 
storms be passed of civil enmity." And, in the last act, 
even such a detail as his place of imprisonment is remem- 
bered and named: 

"Away with Oxford to Hames Castle straight." 

Finally, we have the concentration of Shakespeare's ma- 
tured powers in the great tragic drama of "Richard III," 

which sets forth the overthrow of the house 

r ^. , 1. • iriT i-D-u Richard III." 

of 1 ork, and the triumph or Henry or Rich- 
mond, as representative of the House of Lancaster. In 
this play King Edward remembers, in his distress over the 
death of Clarence, that it was he who saved him "in the 
field of Tewkesbury, when Oxford had me down." In the 
last act of all, when the Yorkists are overthrown and Henry 
Tudor appears, it is with Oxford by his side; and It Is Ox- 
ford who, as premier nobleman, replies first to the king's 
address to his followers. Whether, therefore, Shakespeare 
was an actual representative of the family of the De Veres 
or not, we are quite entitled to claim that he shows a marked 
partiality for the family, a careful regard for Its honour, 
and a precise acquaintance with details pertaining to Its 
several members. 

Such a fact would not have given a justification for the 
selection of Fidward de Vere In the first Instance; for the 
family might have had Intense admirers out- 
side the circle of Its own members. When, sile^nce.^ ^^^^ 
however, the selection has been made on quite 
other grounds, and supported by other lines of argument, 
the discovery that "Shakespeare" displays this special par- 
tiality has Immense value, and hardly leaves room for doubt 
as to the soundness of the choice. The poet and dramatist 
who wrote the passages we have quoted from "Henry VI," 
part 3, could hardly fail to have been interested also in the 


particular representative of the family who at that time bore 
the title, and who happened, moreover, to be a poet and 
dramatist quite in "Shakespeare's" line. Yet this particular 
nobleman's name is never once met with in connection with 
the "Shakespeare" dramas, although he was living at the 
time in Hackney, then a London suburb immediately adja- 
cent to Shoreditch, where Burbage had his theatre, and the 
Shakespeare dramas were being staged. All this is more 
than suggestive of a wish not to be seen in it. 

It is worth remarking, too, that Shakespeare's expres- 
sion of partiality is more guarded in "Richard III" than in 
"Henry VI," part 3. The former play is a later and more 
matured work, belonging to the time when the Shakespeare 
mask had been adopted. Great publicity was given to it, 
and it passed through several editions in the lifetime of Ed- 
ward de Vere. The play of "Henry VI," part 3, evidently 
an earlier work, in which he betrays his Oxford partialities 
more freely, was not printed in its present form until it 
appeared in the Folio edition of 1623. That is to say, 
it is really a posthumous publication of a youthful produc- 
tion, never having been published with Shakespeare's im- 
primatur, and may, indeed, never have been staged during 
the later years of "Shakespeare's" fame. 

Of the earls who succeeded to the domains and titles 
between John the I3t'h Earl, who stood by the side of Henry 
VII, and Edward the 17th Earl, little need be said. After 
the death of the 14th Earl the direct male line came to an 
end, and the 15th Earl, the grandfather of the poet, suc- 
ceeded by right of descent from Richard de Vere, the nth 
Earl of Oxford. 

Before leaving the matter of Edward de Vere's ances- 
try, It is necessary to offer a few observations on the office 

of Lord Great Chamberlain, which had been 
Chamberlain hereditary in his family for centuries, and to 

which he succeeded, along with the other dig- 
nities, on the death of his father. This office must not be 
confused with that of Lord Chamberlain, rendered familiar 
to Shakespeare students by its association with the perform- 


ance and publication of many of Shakespeare's plays. "The 
Merchant of Venice," for example, was published "as it 
hath beene diverse times acted by the Lord Chamberlain, 
his servants." Amongst the functions of the Lord Cham- 
berlain are the arrangements relating to royal patronage 
of the drama and the licensing of plays and theatres. It 
was the company of actors under the special patronage of 
' the Lord Chamberlain which in Queen Elizabeth's day 
performed many of "Shakespeare's" plays, and has in 
consequence been erroneously styled "Shakespeare's Com- 
pany." The disappearance of the Lord Chamberlain's 
books for the "Shakespeare" period is dealt with in another 

The position of the Lord Great Chamberlain, though of 
higher social dignity, appears to have been less onerous and 
its functions more intermittent. These had more to do with 
state functions and the royal person, near whom this official 
was placed on such great occasions as coronations and royal 

It is necesssary to point out the distinction, otherwise 
the unwary might be misled into supposing that Edward 
de Vere, by virtue of his office, had something to do with 
the direct management of the company with which William 
Shakspere was connected. The Lord Chamberlain during 
part of the "Shakespeare" period was Lord Hunsdon; and 
though Edward de Vere might possibly have something to 
do with the matter indirectly, through his fellow official, 
directly as Lord Great Chamberlain, it would not come with- 
in his province. 

As Lord Great Chamberlain he officiated near the per- 
son of James I at his coronation, just as, doubtless, when 
a boy, he had witnessed his father officiating at the corona- 
tion of Queen Elizabeth. Although his officiating at Eliza- 
beth's funeral is not mentioned so explicitlv /^ 

^ ^ Queen 

as the part he took at the coronation of James, Elizabeth's 
it is natural to assume that he would be there. ^^^^^ • 
It Is just possible that this ceremony is directly referred to 
in sonnet 125: 


"Were't aught to me I bore the canopy, 
With my extern the outward honouring, 
Or laid great bases for eternity, 

Which prove more short than waste or ruining? 

* * * * 

No, let me be obsequious in thy heart. 
And take thou my oblation, poor but free." 

If this can be shown to have any direct connection with 
the functions of Lord Great Chamberlain, it will be a very 
valuable direct proof of our thesis. The particular sonnet 
from which we have quoted comes at the extreme end of 
the series to which it belongs; and, as we are assured that 
the whole series was brought to a close shortly after the 
death of Queen Elizabeth, sonnet 125 must have been writ- 
ten about the time of that event. It is difficult to imagine 
in what impressive ceremony William Shakspere of Strat- 
ford could have participated about the same time, necessi- 
tating his bearing the canopy and laying great bases for 
eternity. On the other hand, the reference to ''dwellers 
on form and favour losing all by paying too much rent" is 
strongly suggestive of an allusion to royalty, and is exactly 
descriptive of what Oxford represents Elizabeth's treatment 
of himself to have been: that she had encouraged his lavish 
expenditure with promises of favour that had not been ful- 
filled. His application, in her later years, for the presidency 
of Wales had met with fair words and disappointment. Al- 
together the suggestion of an allusion in the sonnet to the 
hereditary office of the Lord Great Chamberlain seems very 


Father of Edward de Vere 

Edward de Vere, Seventeenth Earl of Oxford, was born 
at Earl's Colne in Essex, in the year 1550, being the only 
son of John de Vere, Sixteenth Earl of Oxford. His 
mother was Margaret, daughter of John Golding and sis- 
ter of Arthur Golding, the translator of Ovid. His father 


died at Earl's Colne in the year 1562 and was buried at 
Castle Hedingham, in Essex, and the future poet became a 
royal ward at the age of twelve. As this fact of his being 
a royal ward furnished the starting point of an argument 
with a remarkable culmination, we ask for the reader's spe- 
cial attention to it now. Earl's Colne and Castle Heding- 
ham in Essex we may suppose are probably destined to at- 
tain an unexpected notoriety when the purpose of this work 
has been achieved. 

As we have ev^ery reason to believe that the influence 
and memory of De Vere's father were important factors in 
the poet's life, and add an element to our evi- 
dences of identification, it is necessary to point worsWp 
out certain facts concerning him. The article 
in the Dictionary of National Biography dealing with John 
de Vere, Sixteenth Earl of Oxford, mentions him as a man 
greatly honoured in his county and highly respected, es- 
pecially by his tenantry; from which we may infer a habit 
of direct personal intercourse wUh them and a kindly at- 
tention to their interests. He was also a keen sportsman, 
being evidently noted as such. To a lad of twelve a father 
of this kind is an ideal. His qualities appeal much more 
powerfully to the lad's admiration than more distinguished 
or exceptional powers would do; and, especially in the case 
of an intensely affectionate nature like that of Edward de 
Vere's, to which his poetry bears unquestionable testimony, 
one can easily conceive of them forming the basis of a gen- 
uine comradeship between the two. When, therefore, 
we find that the father, who left large estates, nominated 
the boy in his will as one of his executors, it is impossible to 
doubt that the relationship between them was warm and inti- 
mate. The loss of such a father, with the complete upset- 
ting of his young life that it immediately involved, must 
have been a great grief to one so sensitively constituted. 
We may naturally suppose, then, that the figure of a hero- 
father would live in his imagination; and the reader of 
"Shakespeare" who has missed this note of father-worship 


In the great dramas has been found wanting in serious at- 
tention to their finer contents. 

The greatest play of Shakespeare's, "Hamlet," has fa- 
ther-worship as its prime motive : 

"He was a man, take him for all in all, 
I shall not look upon his like again." 

Or, what could be more striking than the opening passages 
of "All's Well that Ends Well" : 

Countess: In delivering my son from me I bury a second husband. 

Bertram: And I in going, m.adam, weep o'er my father's death 
anew; but I must attend his majesty's command, to whom I am now in 
ward evermore in subjection. 

=!= * * * 

Countess: Be thou blest, Bertram, and succeed thy father 
In manners as in shape! Thy blood and virtue 
Contend for empire in thee; and thy goodness 
Share with thy birthright. 

Then in the second scene when Bertram is brought be- 
fore the king, he is addressed thus : 

King : 

Thy father .... did look far 
Into the service of the time and was 
Discipled of the bravest. 

It much repairs me 
To talk of your good father. 

So like a courtier, contempt nor bitterness 

Were in his pride, or, if they were, 

His equal had awaked them: who were below him 

He used as creatures of another place, 

And bowed his eminent top to their low ranks, 

Making them proud of his humility. 

In their poor praise he humbled. Such a man 

Might be a copy to these younger times." 

In addition to the special point we are now emphasiz- 
ing, and the startling correspondence in so many details, 
to the actual circumstances of Edward de Vere, especially 
that of the royal wardship, is it possible to conceive of these 
lines being penned by any one but an aristocrat, in close 


connection with royalty, and dominated by the feudal ideals 
of noblesse' obligef The latter part of the quotation, so 
suggesti\ c of the reputation borne by Edward de Vere's 
father, following upon a passage descriptive of the actual 
position of the son, affords a strong presumption that If the 
writer was not Edward de Vere he, at any rate, had that 
nobleman In his mind as the prototype of Bertram. The 
last sentence bespeaks not only the aristocrat but also a man 
who felt out of touch with the new and less chivalrous order 
then emerging from the protestant middle classes, where 
individualism and personal ambition were less under the dis- 
cipline of social principles than In the best manifestations 
of the departing feudal ideals. 

As in dealing with the early life of Oxford we shall 
have to notice throughout the remarkable parallelism be- 
tween him and Bertram in "All's Well," It Is ..gj^ ^ 
important to bear In mind that very many of speare" and 
the personal details are original to "Shake- 
speare's" play, and do not form part of Boccacio's story 
upon which the central episode Is based. "All's Well" 
might indeed be compendiously described as Boccacio's story 
phis the early life of Edward de Vere. 

A Royal Ward 

Owing to his being in his minority at the time of his 
father's death, the latter's nomination of him as one of the 
executors of his will was inoperative, and he became, as wc 
have seen, a royal ward. Just at this point the records are 
not so precise as we could wish. We learn that, as royal 
w^ard, he was brought from his home to the court, and as 
Cecil (not yet Lord Burleigh) was master of the court 
of royal wards, he became an inmate of Cecil's house in 
the Strand. 

His mother, wc also learn, remarried. We have tried 


In vain to discover the exact dates at which he was brought 
to court, and when his mother remarried, not 
mother/ ^^ matters of mere curiosity, but because we 

believe these points may have their bearing 
both on our problem and upon questions of Shakespearean 
Interpretation. The date of his mother's second marriage 
might prove of especial interest. It is to be regretted, 
therefore, that although references to the event appear In 
histories of Essex, no date is given; thus strengthening our 
suspicion that not much prominence was given to the mar- 
riage at the time : the date especially being kept In the back- 
ground. It Is a curious fact, too, that with the exception 
of her once Interesting herself in his financial affairs, of 
which mention is made in the State Papers, we have not been 
able to discover a single reference to his mother in connec- 
tion with any act In his life. 

In this connection his circumstances contrast in a marked 
way with those of Henry Wriothesley, Third Earl of 
Countess of Southampton, to whom "Shakespeare" dedl- 

Southamp- cated his great poems and probably addressed 
ton. /. , . T T 

many or nis sonnets. He, too, just a genera- 
tion later, became a royal ward at an early age and passed 
under the guardianship of Burleigh. In his case, however, 
his mother remained near him, looking after his interests 
and not remarrying until he had reached his majority: when 
she married Sir Thomas Henneage, Treasurer of the Cham- 
ber, and was herself responsible, as we have seen, for the 
single "official" mention of "Shakespeare" In the records 
of her husband's department. We thus get glimpses of her 
In everything relating to her son, either directly or indi- 
rectly, in those early years. We may remark here that 
as Oxford's own mother was dead at the time of his later 
domestic troubles, In dealing with the domestic troubles of 
Bertram In "All's Well" he may have taken the Dowager 
Countess of Southampton as the prototype of Bertram's 
mother: and certainly the representation seems to fit. 

In Oxford's own case everything Is different from South- 


ampton's. His mother does not appear, and one gets a 
sense of there being a complete severance 
between his early childhood with its home as- at^court 
sociations and father's influence, and the re- 
mainder of his boyhood and youth. Henceforth it is 
"by public means which public manners breeds," that 
his bringing-up is provided for. From the age of 
twelve true domestic influences were lost to him; he becomes 
a prominent figure about Elizabeth's court, subjected to cor- 
rupting influences, in which it must be admitted the Queen 
herself was a potent factor. x\t the same time it is quite 
evident that he was only uncomfortably domiciled in Cecil's 
house. Between the Earl of Oxford and the Earl of South- 
ampton there was therefore a striking parallel with an im- 
portant difference. 

The only family connection of which there are any 
traces is that of his uncle, Arthur Golding, the translator 

of Ovid, who entered Cecil's house as Ox- . ^, 

' , _ Arthur 

ford's tutor and as receiver of his property. Golding's 
The vital significance of the relationship of 
Arthur Golding to the man we are putting forward as the 
author of Shakespeare's plays will be fully appreciated 
by those Shakespearean students who are also students 
of the Latin classics, and who are able to trace in Shake- 
speare passages borrowed from Ovid, which follow the 
original more closely than do the standard translations. 

We shall again quote from Sir Sidney Lee's "Life of 
Shakespeare" on this point: "Although Ovid's Latin text 
was certainly familiar to him (Shakespeare) his closest 
adaptations of Ovid's 'Metamorphoses' often rcjlect the 
phraseology of the popular English version by Arthur Gold- 
ing of which some seven editions were issued between 1565 
and 1597." That is to say, these editions of Ovid were 
being issued by Arthur Golding in the \ery years in which 
he was Latin tutor to the Earl of Oxford, so that special 
point is gi\cn by the theory we are now putting forward 
to the biographer's hitcr remark that "Golding's rendering 


of Ovid had been one of Shakespeare's best-loved books in 

To this we may add the testimony of Professor Sir 
Walter Raleigh that: "He certainly knew Ovid, for he 
quotes him in the original more than once, and chooses a 
motto for 'Venus and Adonis' from the Elegies. But his 
more elaborate borrowings from Ovid came, for the most 
part, by way of Arthur Golding's translations." 

To find "Shakespeare" more exact in some instances 
than the translator raises an acknowledged difficulty in 
..g, , connection w^ith the Stratfordian view. It 

speare" and has for a long while been one of the vexed 
questions of Shakespearean authorship, and 
is discussed at some length in Sir George Greenwood's work 
on the "Shakespearean Problem." What is a difficulty with 
the accepted authorship becomes transformed into a sub- 
stantial corroboration of the theory of authorship w^e are 
now advancing; and all mystery immediately vanishes when 
we assume that Arthur Golding, the Ovid enthusiast and 
translator, was himself a relative as well as a private tutor 
and Latin teacher to "Shakespeare," engaged in the latter 
capacity in the very years in w^hich he was translating 
and publishing the works of this particular poet. 

The importance of this little piece of evidence can 
hardly be over-estimated. By itself it proves nothing, but in 
view of the prominent position which the Ovid controversy 
has taken in the question of Shakespearean authorship, 
and in conjunction with the other lines of evidence we are 
now offering, its value is unquestionable. Ovid is the one 
Latin poet who has been specially singled out as having 
directly left deep traces in Shakespeare's work, at the same 
time that the dramatist shows an equal Intimacy with the 
translation. This is precisely the result we should expect 
from the Earl of Oxford's relationship to Arthur Golding. 
An Intimate acquaintance with one particular translation 
of a classic, and also such an acquaintance with the original 
as to make his own rendering more complete and exact in 


some respects is not a usual combination in a student of the 
classics, and needs some such relationship as existed be- 
tween Edward de Vere and Arthur Golding to explain it. 
The connection of Edward de Vere, Arthur Golding, and 
''Shakespeare" with Ovid thus constitutes an important 
link in our chain of evidence. 

In this connection we would, in conclusion, offer a sug- 
gestion. Arthur Golding was the author of other works 
besides the translation of Ovid. From ref- 
erences to these we gather that all are quite Golding^ ^" 
inferior to the Ovid work: itself only of sec- 
ond rate order. If, then, the translation of Ovid formed 
part of Oxford's Latin studies — as it most assuredly w^ould 
do under the circumstances — It may be that what is taken to 
be the Influence of Goldlng's work In "Shakespeare" is In 
reality due to the Influence of the young Earl of Oxford 
upon the work of Arthur Golding. 

Considering the place occupied by the translator of Ovid 
in the early life and education of the Earl of Oxford, we 
would draw particular attention to the fact 
that. In the Inner Temple Records, there ap- Law!^ 
pears an entry indicating that after finishing 
his work as tutor to his nephew, Arthur Golding was ad- 
mitted to the Bar. Evidently then, pari passu with the 
work of translating classics and instructing the Earl of Ox- 
ford, there had been proceeding the study of law. Ox- 
ford's course of reading had been mapped out for him by 
Cecil, and it goes without saying that a plan of studies drawn 
up by Cecil would most certainly embrace legal procedure. 
Oxford's letters of a much later date, preserved In the 
Hatlield Manuscripts, certainly appeal to a layman as the 
work of a man conversant with legal forms and terminol- 
ogy, and one passage of special interest we shall presently 
submit. The question of whether his legal knowledge was 
on the same plane with that of "Shakespeare" the experts 
must decide: meanwhile we shall give one or two ex- 
amples: — 


Earl of Oxford to Sir Robert Cecil: 

"It is now a year since Her Majesty granted her inter- 
est in Danver's escheat. I find that the lands will be carried 
without deed. I have twice moved Her Majesty to grant 
me that ordinary course, whereof there are more than one 
hundred examples. Mine answer was that I should receive 
her pleasure from you. But I understand by Cauley that 
she hath never spoken thereof. The matter hath been 
heard twice before the judges but their report hath never 
been made. I challenge that something be done whereby 
I may, upon ground, seek and try Her Majesty's right, 
which cannot be done without this deed aforesaid. I de- 
sire to know Her Majesty's pleasure touching her patent 
(de bene esse) whether she will perform it or no." 

Hackney, 22nd March, 1601. 
(Hatfield MSS., Vol. XII.) 

"If Her Majesty's affections be forfeits of men's estates 
we must endure it." (Hatfield MSS., Vol V.) 

What the lawyers tell us of Shakespeare's use of the 
word "forfeit," coupled with the reference to endurance, 
makes this sentence eminently Shakespearean. 

More than once we get evidence of his chafing under 
"the law's delays," and of royal promises unsupported by 

"I was promised favour that I should have assistance 
of Her Majesty's counsel in law, that I should have expedi- 
tion. Her Majesty's counsel hath been against me. Her 
Majesty used me very graciously ... I have written Her 
Majesty and received a most gracious answer to do me good 
in all that she can." 

December, 1601. 

(Hatfield MSS., XI.) 

Her Majesty's promises and gracious answers, however, 
came to nothing in these cases. 


The significance of the following passage (in one of 
Oxford's letters) either from the legal or Shakespearean 
point of view we do not profess to understand. Its chief 
interest lies in the two names it introduces together. We 
shall therefore preface it with two passages from Mrs. 
Stopes's "Burbage and Shakespeare's Stage" : 

"On 13th November, 1590, Mr. Sergeant Harrys for 
Burbage prayed consideration of a former order made in 
his behalf in the suit of Burbage v. _ 

. Sergeant 

Braynes" (p. 50). Sergeant Harris was Harris and 

evidently then engaged in legal business 

connected with Burbage's theatre. On 17th June, '44, Eliz. 

(1602) "The Court referred (another legal case involving 
theatrical connections) to the consideration of the right 

worshipful Francis Bacon, Esq Here at last I 

have found a real association of Francis Bacon with the 

rheatre. ... in his legal capacity, not a poetic one at 
all. . . . This case was running concurrently with (an- 
other theatrical legal case brought in in 1601)." 

The Earl of Oxford to Sir Robert Cecil ( 1601 ) : 

"I am advised that I may pass my book from Her Ma- 
jesty to my cousin Bacon and to Sergeant Harris to perfect 
it." From Hackney. 

Bacon was a cousin of Robert Cecil's and therefore 
a cousin of Oxford's by marriage; and the evidence here 
presented of the co-operation of the two men in legal mat- 
ters may go fur to explain the many interesting similarities 
of expression brought together by the Baconians. Fhese 
matters take us far beyond the period of his history with 
which wc arc immediately concerned: the object of intro- 
ducing them now is to show that both In tiic education of 
Oxford, and in his subsequent career, there is much to ac- 
count for the prominence of legal terms in any writing 
which might be attributed to him. 


Resuming now the acccount of his education generally, 
we are told that Cecil had drawn up some scheme of in- 
g , struction; that he was "thoroughly grounded 

learning and in French and Latin"; that he "learnt to 


dance, ride and shoot"; and that he mani- 
fested a natural taste for music and a marked interest in 
literature. On the other hand, every word of the records 
we have of him, taken along with what he has himself writ- 
ten, represents him as one combining with his interest in 
books a more intense interest in life itself. Or, rather, we 
should say he was one in whom life and literature, especially 
classic poetry, seem to have worked themselves into some 
kind of unity: one who interpreted life in terms of classic 
poetry, carrying into life the conceptions of classic poetry, 
and reading classic poetry as but the reflection of ordinary 
practical life. To say that all this is characteristic of 
Shakespeare is as banal a remark as could well be made; 
and the words which the dramatist puts into the mouth of 
Berowne in "Love's Labour's Lost" might quite easily be 
taken as Edward de Vere's expression of personal opin- 

"Learning is but an adjunct to ourself." 
And this : 


•That (delight is) most vain 
Which with pain purchased doth inherit pain: 
As painfully to pore upon a book, 
To seek the light of truth; while truth the while 
Doth falsely blind the eyesight of his look: 
Small have continual plodders ever won 
Save base authority from others' books. 
These earthly godfathers of heaven's light 
That give a name to every fixed star, 
Have no more profit of their shining nights 
Than those that walk and wot not what they are. 
Too much to know is to know nought but fame, 
And every godfather can give a name. 


How well he's read to reason against reading." 


The Shakespeare revealed In the dramas was no mere 
book-worm "falsely blinding the eyesight" of his mind in 
close plodding at academic studies. On the other hand It 
Is almost Impossible to conceive of a man In the position 
of the Stratford Shakspere rising to such a literary level 
otherwise than by the most assiduous and constant applica- 
tion of his mind to books. The man "self-educated" in 
this way has Invariably to pay a penalty in those sides of 
his nature which relate him to practical life : a penalty which 
"Shakespeare" had not paid, and need not be paid by a man 
living In contact with educated people to whom "book-learn- 
ing" is an "adjunct" to life rather than Its chief concern. 

It Is interesting to notice, however, that the outstanding 
subjects of De Vere's book-learning are French and Latin; 
and in this connection we are again able to 
adduce the testimony of Shakespeare's lead- Latin and 
Ing modern biographer as to the dramatist's 
linguistic attainments : 

"With the Latin and French languages Indeed, and with 
many Latin poets of the school curriculum, Shakespeare 
In his writings openly acknowledged his acquaintance. In 
'Henry V the dialogue In many scenes Is carried on in 
French, which is grammatically accurate if not idiomatic" 
(Sir Sidney Lee, "Life of Shakespeare"). 

In other words, Shakespeare's French was not mere 
school-book French, but the living speech of a man ac- 
quainted with the language In direct relationship with 
thought processes: and this nearly three hundred years be- 
fore the oral method of teaching languages was Introduced 
into school curricula. Similarly Edward de Vere's facility 
In the use of French was such that one of the few duties 
with which he was officially entrusted was to meet and con- 
duct an important emissary from France. Again, by Itself, 
the point might seem unimportant. The reason, however, 
why we dwell upon it, and why we quote Shakespearean 
authorities in the matter, is to show that there is probably 
not a single outstanding fact recorded of Edward de Vere, 


but we have some Shakespearean scholar who has asserted 
it to be also true of the writer of the plays. 

In addition to the advantages of the best private tuition 
he had also a university education; first at Queens' College, 
Cambridge, then at St. John's College. Subse- 
Universities quently he received degrees from both uni- 
versities. The references to this matter are, 
however, peculiarly slight, and leave the impression of his 
having been one who had merely trifled for a short time with 
university life, and to whom it did not count for much. Even 
the dates of his residence are not given, and the degrees 
we judge to have been honorary degrees in both cases, given 
in after years. It is claimed by some writers that Shake- 
speare shows a knowledge of the universities. Such contact 
as Edward de Vere had with them would be sufficient to 
account for that knowledge, whilst the apparently small 
part it played in his hfe would quite agree with the almost 
negligible part that college and university matters occupy 
in the plays. There are only two occasions on which 
Shakespeare mentions the word "university." Hamlet, in 
poking fun at Polonius, draws him out by exciting his van- 
ity about what he had done "at the university." The other 
occasion is when another old man, with a slight suggestion 
of Polonius about him, Vincentio, in the "Taming of the 
Shrew," bewails "I am undone ! While I play the good hus- 
band at home my son and my servant spend all at the uni- 
versity." It may be that the dramatist had the same per- 
sonality in his mind's eye in both cases. 

Oxford's life in the Cecil household seems to have been 

far from happy. For it was during these years, between 

^ . . , . the death of his father and his coming: 

Relationship i i r /■ n i 

with the ot age, that he first of all sought re- 

^^^ ^* lief from it by begging for some military 

occupation. There was probably in him, too, some idea 

of winning military glory quite In keeping with the family 

traditions and the later achievements of his cousins the 

"Fighting Veres," It Is clear, however, that his relation- 


ships with the Cecil family were not harmonious. At any 
rate, the record of him, which is evidently originally from 
Cecilian sources, is to the effect that he quarrelled with the 
other members of the household. In view of the fact that 
when Oxford entered the house Anne Cecil was a child five 
years old, Robert Cecil was still unborn and Thomas Cecil 
had already left home, it is not easy to see who there would 
be to quarrel wnth except the irascible Lady Burleigh. The 
quarrels are mentioned with the evident object of proving 
him quarrelsome. What is not mentioned, probably be- 
cause the modern recorder had not observed it, is that three 
of the noblemen most hostile to the Cecils and the Cecil 
faction in Elizabeth's court, had all been royal wards, hav- 
ing had the great Lord Burleigh as their guardian — Ed- 
ward de Vere, Earl of Oxford; Henry Wriv:)thesley, Earl 
of Southampton; and Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex. 
These noblemen apparently considered it no great blessing 
to have had the paternal attentions of the great minister, 
and cherished no particular affection for the family. So 
far as the Earl of Oxford is concerned, whatever disaster 
may have come into his life, we are confident, had its be- 
ginning in the death of his father, the severance of his home 
ties, and the combined influences of Elizabeth's court and 
Burleigh's household, from which he was anxious to es- 
cape. The expression of it all is heard in sonnet ill: 

"O! for my sake do you with Fortune chide 
The guilty goddess of my harmful deeds; 
That did not better for my life provide 
Than public means that public manners breeds. 
Thence comes it that my name receives a brand, 
And almost thence my nature is subdued 
To what it works in, like the dyer's hand." 

The attempt to explain this passage as William Shak- 
spere's lament o\cr a public career that was raising him, 
in early manhood, from poverty and obscurity to wealth 
and fame, after he had left — on the Stratfordian theory — 
a wholesome home-life enlightened by a superior education, 


is as grotesque a piece of explanatory comment as that the- 
ory has been responsible for. 

The part which Burleigh took actively In Oxford's 
troubles belongs to a later stage of our story. Our present 

r. r . J concern is with the nine years during which he 
Oxford and •' ° 

Queen was a royal ward (age 12 to 21), the period 

'^^ ^ ' of his education proper. In these years we 

find him having just those experiences which, taken along 
with his own and his family's antecedents, and the evident 
bent of his genius, were supplying the precise kind of train- 
ing needed for the production of the plays of Shakespeare, 
in several of their prime essentials. Without being ac- 
tually a prince of royal blood he was so near to It, in all the 
points material to our argument, as to be regarded In that 
light. He enjoyed an easy familiarity with the Queen; he 
accompanied her on her journeys; he seems In his early life 
to have had a real affection for her and she for him; and, 
later on, as he developed into manhood, received attentions 
of such a nature from the Queen, now middle-aged, as to 
cause his Irate mother-in-law to take her royal mistress to 
task about it. An entry appears in the Calendered State Pa- 
pers stating that it was affirmed by one party that "the Queen 
wooed the Earl of Oxford but he would not fall In." (Do- 
mestic Papers for 1601-3, page 56.) Elizabeth indeed 
showed a marked indulgence to what seemed like wayward- 
ness in him; and when, again at a later time, the quarrel 
between him and Sidney occurred she took his side and 
demanded an apology from Sidney — basing her demand, it 
Is asserted, on the grounds of Oxford's superior rank. We 
have already had to draw attention to the startling charac- 
ter of the analogy between Oxford and the central charac- 
ter in "All's Well," the royal ward, Bertram Count of 
Roussilon, to which must now be added this proximity in 
social rank and Intimate Intercourse with royalty, to 
which Helena refers In her conversation with the King. 
It will be Interesting to notice, too, the emphasis given both 
in this play and In "Hamlet" to the Idea that by virtue of 


their birth the chief characters had no personal liberty of 
choice in the matter of marriage. 

Before leaving the consideration of these formative 
influences in the early life of Oxford, we return to its being 
specially recorded of him that he learnt to 
''dance, ride and shoot." Oxford's skill in 
dancing and its influence over the Queen is emphasized by 
one contemporary English writer, whilst an interesting illus- 
tration of it appears in the Spanish Calendered State Pa- 
pers. When the Duke of Anjou visited England, Eliza- 
beth sent for Oxford to come and dance before the Duke: 
but this he refused to do though repeatedly sent for. So 
far as dancing is concerned, "Shakespeare" was evidently 
well acquainted with it, as shown by the number of ref- 
erences to it and his knowledge of the names of different 
kinds of dances and steps. These references do not, how- 
ever, seem to express any enthusiasm for it, or suggest that 
it occupied at all a prominent position amongst Shake- 
speare's interests. Indeed Bertram, in "All's Well," seems 
rather to be expressing the author's own attitude when he 
complains about having to 

"Stay here, 
Creaking my shoes on the plain masonry, 
Till honour be bought up, and no sword worn 
But one to dance with." 

It is the attitude of a man who danced because he was de- 
nied a more manly outlet for his energies: secretly ashamed 
possibly of his own accomplishment and unwilling to put 
himself on exhibition. 

Again, in the matter of shooting, if it is shooting with 
firearms that is meant, this is less than anything in Shake- 
speare's line; hut if it be archery to which al- 
, . . ..... . , Shooting. 

lusion is made, then it is in every way typical 

of "Shakespeare." Shakespeare has, of course, references 
to firearms; in one or two instances he even uses out-of-the- 
way terms; but, in the matter of archery his vocabulary is 
almost as rich, and his illustrations drawn from it 


almost as copious, as In the case of falconry; so that, In ex- 
amining the matter now one wonders how it chanced to be 
overlooked at the beginning of our enquiry, when specify- 
ing his leading characteristics. 

Most Important of all, however. Is this point of De 
Vere's horsemanship. Not only did Oxford learn to ride, 
but, In those days when horsemanship was 
sh?p.^^"^^"" much more In vogue than It will probably ever 
be again, and when great skill was attained 
in horse-management, he was amongst those who excelled, 
particularly in tilts and tourneys, receiving special marks 
of royal appreciation of his skill. Horsemanship was, 
therefore, a very pronounced Interest of his. His father, 
too, had been the owner of valuable horses, special mention 
of them being made In his will, which Arthur Collins quotes 
in his "Historical Recollections of Noble Families." 

Turning now to Shakespeare's works we feel again that 
It was another grave omission from our original statement 
of Shakespearean interests not to have mentioned horses. 
We find there Is more In Shakespeare about horses than 
upon almost any subject outside human nature. Indeed we 
feel tempted to say that Shakespeare brings them within 
the sphere of human nature. There is, of course, his inti- 
mate knowledge of different kinds of horses, their physical 
peculiarities, all the details which go to form a good or a 
bad specimen of a given variety, almost a veterinary's 
knowledge of their diseases and their treatment. But over 
and above all this there Is a peculiar handling of the theme 
which raises a horse almost to the level of a being with a 
moral nature. 

In "Venus and Adonis," for example, we have what Is In 
reality a poem within the poem, amounting to over seventy 
lines, in which a mere animal Instinct is raised in horses to 
the dignity of a complex and exalted human passion. 

Or, take the following dialogue from "Richard 11": 



O! how it yearn'd my heart when I beheld 
In London streets that coronation day, 
When Bolingbroke rode on roan Barbary. 
That horse that thou so oft hast bestrid, 
That horse that I so carefully have dress'd. 

King Richard: 

Rode he on Barbary? Tell me, gentle friend, 
How went he under him? 


So proudly as if he disdain'd the ground. 

King Richard: 

So proud that Bolingbroke was on his back! 
That jade hath eat bread from my royal hand, 
This hand hath made him proud with clapping him. 
Would he not stumble? Would he not fall down, 
Since pride must have a fall, and break the neck 
Of that proud man that did usurp his back? 
Forgiveness, horse! Why do I rail on thee? 

It reads like a real personal experience; as if the man 
who wrote it knew what it was to own valuable horses and 
to suffer the mortification of seeing the animals he loved 
passing, as a result of his misfortunes, into the possession 
of others: an experience which, without any surmising, must 
have been endured by Edward de Vere. 

In thus working from the early life of De Vere to the 
works of Shakespeare little remains to be said. With the 
scanty materials before us it is impossible to 

• , » 1-r 1 • 1 1 Early poetry. 

Visualise the poet s lire during those very early 
years. Whether or not he had begun to write poetry we 
cannot say. The poems before us seem from their con- 
tents to belong mainly to the early part of the next ten 
years, when he was between the ages of twenty and thirty. 
We wish to throw out a suggestion, however, which it may 
be worth while for literary men to examine. In "I^ngland's 
Helicon" there is a set of poems of superior merit, which, 
nevertheless, seem to us inferior to the poetry of Edward 
de Vere already examined. They appear over the signa- 
ture of Shepherd l^)ny and constitute another of the 


mysteries of Elizabethan literature. They do, however, 
contain certain marks of Edward de Vere's work, and it is 
not impossible that they may include his earliest juvenile 
eliorts. I-or notwithstanding the evidence that his known 
work belongs mainly to his early years, it seems much too 
skilfully done to have been his first production. Even it 
seems to demand a "foreground somewhere"; and Shepherd 
Tony may represent that foreground. These particular 
poems seem to contain rather more of the affectation of 
the early Elizabethan poetry than do De Vere's recognized 
work, and have not always the same smoothness of diction. 
At the same time they mark a distinct advance in the direc- 
tion of realism; and one poem of Shepherd Tony's, "Beauty 
sat bathing by a spring," which has been erroneously at- 
tributed to Anthony Munday, is a very decided break from 
the weaker work of earlier Elizabethan times. 

Before leaving this early stage of his career we may 
add a somewhat inexplicable memorandum of Cecil's which 
concerns his affairs, dated July loth, 1570, 
Italy.'^ ^" ^^^ preserved in the Hatfield manuscripts. 

Rumour was evidently rife that Cecil was 
managing Oxford's affairs in the matter of lands, to his own 
advantage and to Oxford's detriment: a matter on which 
the latter attacked him some six or seven years later. Cecil 
emphatically contradicts the allegation, and continues: — 

"Whosoever saith that I did stay my Lord of Oxford's money 
here so as he had no money in Italy by the space of six months they 
say also untruly." 

We cannot find any other indication of Oxford's visiting 
Italy before his tour In 1575 and 1576. 

This chapter as a whole may be said to be concerned 
with biographical foundations; all the particulars of which 
relate themselves directly to the "Shake- 
speare" literature. The reputation which 
"vulgar scandal" had fixed upon him Is represented in the 
sonnets. His pride of birth displays Itself throughout the 


dramas, and is reflected specially In Shakespeare's partiality 
to the Earls of Oxford. The hereditary ofHce of his family 
is possihly alluded to in the sonnets. His orphanhood, 
royal wardship, and particulars of his early life are rep- 
resented in ''All's Well." Details of his education, par- 
ticularly the part taken by his uncle, Arthur Golding, re- 
produce themselves in the outstanding features of "Shake- 
speare's" education, as given by eminent Stratfordlans. 
The prominence of law In ^'Shakespeare" for the first time 
finds an explanation consistent with all the other require- 
ments of the work. We therefore ask again, is all this 
mere accidental coincidence? 


Early Manhood of Edward de Verb 

As Burleigh's papers are the chief original source of 
biographical matter relating to the Earl of Oxford's private 
life, and the writers upon whom we depend for most of 
our details are marked by Cecilian partialities, it is neces- 
sary to point out that, though w^e accept many of the facts 
upon their authority, they share in no degree the responsi- 
bility for the interpretation of them. This is entirely our 

On coming of age, in April, 157 1, Oxford took his seat 
in the House of Lords, and in the same year distinguished 
himself at a solemn joust which took place in 
the Queen's presence at Westminster. In 
December of the same year he married, with the Queen's 
consent, Anne, daughter of Lord Burleigh. The Queen 
^'attended the ceremony which was celebrated with great 

As w^e have already had occasion to point out the re- 
markable parallelism between the case of the Earl of 
Oxford and Bertram in "All's Well," we must now add to 
it this fact of his marriage with a young woman with whom 
he had been brought up. In Bertram's case, however, they 
had lived together at his own home, whereas in Oxford's 
case they had lived together in the home of the lady. If 
we are to believe contemporary report on the matter the 
resemblance between the two cases extends to even more 
interesting particulars. Helena was socially Inferior to 
Bertram. In the early part of the play he shows no inclina- 
tion towards this young woman who Is In love with him, 
and It Is she who pursues the young man until she succeeds 
In winning him as her husband. 


William Ckcil, First I.oki. IUkc-hmv, K.C, i kum tm, Puk.kmi in ihl 

NvnONAL IWrAIT (iALLKRV, AnKMUTL.. .o .\ . ( .M ,- . KM .» . ., KROM V 

I>h<)i<)(;r\ph ky Kmirv W \i ki k, I i\im d. 


Helena : 

"I am from humble, he from honoured name; 
No note upon my parents, his all noble; 
My master, my dear lord he is; and I 
His servant live, and will his vassal die." 

Wc may remark in passing that it is diilicult to believe 
that these words could have been written by any one but 
an aristocrat in whom pride of birth was a pronounced feel- 
ing. We may also compare the last lines of this passage 
with the concluding part of De Vere's Echo poem: 

"May I his favour match with love if he my love will try? 
May I requite his birth with faith then faithful will I die?" 

Most people will agree that the similarity of these two 
passages is startling. 

Now, not only did Anne Cecil belong to the newly 
emerging middle class, so much held in contempt by the 
few remaining representatives of the ancient 
aristocracy, but we have it reported by a con- Oxford 
temporary, Lord St. John, that, "the lirle of 
Oxenforde hath gotten himself a wyfte, or, at Irstc a zvyffe 
hath caiujht him. This is the mistress Anne Cycille, where- 
unto the Queen hath given her consent." One may conclude, 
therefore, that the T^arl of Oxford was not supposed to 
have been very acti\'e himself in bringing about the mar- 
riage. Rightly or wrongly others regarded Oxford's mar- 
riage with Burleigh's daughter in much the same light as 
is represented by the marriage of Bertram with Helena. 
All this reads \ery strangely in view of the age of the bride : 
for Anne was born on December 5th, 1556. 

T •! T 1- > 1 c 1 1- Juliet, 

l.ikc Juliet she was, thererorc, hut tourtcen 

years of age at the time when the courting alluded to took 

place, and when all the wedding arrangciiients were made. 

The marriage itself seems merelv to have been tlelayed 

until the moment when she could be spoken of as being 


This combination of extreme vouthfulness and the bear- 


ing and conduct of a matured woman, common to Juliet and 
Anne Cecil, we shall find in a later dramatic representation 
of Lady Oxford. The resemblance to Juliet, however, 
must be viewed in the light of the remarkable correspond- 
ence In literary particulars between the work of De Vere 
and Shakespeare's play of "Romeo and Juliet." This play 
is recognized as one of the early productions of Shake- 
speare, and it is also interesting to notice that Mr. Frank 
Harris selects Romeo as a personal self-representation of 
Shakespeare in his early years. 

The resemblance between Lady Oxford and Helena 
with which we are particularly concerned at this stage is 

further supported by letters in the Hatfield 
Helena. . . i • i i n r 

manuscripts, m which her smallness of stature 

and sweetness of manner are indicated. She is spoken of, 

on two occasions, by different writers, as the "sweet little 

Countess of Oxford," precisely as Helena, in "All's Well," 

is spoken of as "little Helena" (I, i) and "sweet Helena" 

(V, 3) : the latter epithet being specially emphasized by 


What the actual inward relationships of Oxford and 
his wife may hav^e been. Is one of the secrets over which 
the grave has closed for ever. We have Impressions re- 
corded, however, which are derived evidently from hostile 
Cecil sources. Oxford himself, on the other hand, pre- 
serves an almost complete silence, proof against all provoca- 
tion; his enemies call It sulkiness. The one thing clear 
about It is that the union was unhappy, and had a marked 
influence upon his career. This being so, the matter con- 
cerns our present enquiry. 

The antagonism between Oxford and Philip Sidney has 
already been referred to. Now we find that Sidney had 
Sordid ^^^^ ^^ '^ been proposed as a husband for 

considera- Anne Cecil, and her father's conduct of the 

negotiations, however It may strike an aristo- 
crat, appears to an ordinary Englishman as sordid a piece 
of bargaining over the disposal of a daughter as could well 


be. Sidney, notwithstanding his family connections and 
personal prospects, which had evidently been quite enough 
to satisfy the demands of a prospective aristocratic father- 
in-law like Lord Devereux, was nevertheless too poor a man 
to satisfy the cupidity of Sir William Cecil, as he then was. 
He must needs procure for his daughter, he says, a richer 
husband than Master Philip Sidney. The difficulty was 
overcome, however, and arrangements were made for the 
marriage of Anne Cecil to Sidney, though both were hardly 
more than children at the time; for Sidney was Oxford's 
junior by four and a half years, whilst Anne was only 12 
years old in 1569 when the marriage arrangement was 

At the time when the marriage between Anne and 
Sidney was arranged the Earl of Oxford was, socially, 
"out of Anne's star." Now Cecil's care for 
the social and material advancement of his engagement, 
own family Is one of the outstanding features 
of his policy. From this point of view the marriage of 
his daughter to one of the foremost of the ancient nobility, 
and a man of vast possessions, would be a great acquisition 
and the gratification of a high personal ambition. These 
social connections evidently meant much to him, for he had 
tried to make out an aristocratic ancestry for himself and 
had failed. Whether or not Elizabeth would sanction such 
an alliance might, however, be considered extremely doubt- 
ful; and If she were to consent, such consent would be almost 
as great a concession to Cecil as was that of Denmark's 
King and Queen to the marriage of Hamlet with the daugh- 
ter of Polonlus. 

What may have transpired "behind the scenes" we shall 
probably never know; but we find that early In 1571 Cecil 
was raised to the peerage with the title of Lord Burleigh, 
the marriage arrangement with Sidney was cancelled, the 
Queen gave her consent to Oxford's marriage with Bur- 
leigh's daughter Anne, and In the latter part of the same 
year the marriage took place In the Queen's presence, being 


"celebrated with great pomp!" It is not improbable, then, 
that Burleigh owed his own peerage to the proposed mar- 

A most curious circumstance, suggestiv^e of more sordid 
bargaining, is what is recorded of Burleigh and Oxford's 

estates. Amongst the extensive estates of the 
H^d\ngham ^^ Veres, the two most directly associated 

with the family appear to have been those of 
Earls Colne and Hedingham in Essex. Now we find that, 
shortly after his marriage, the Earl of Oxford made over 
the important ancestral domain of Castle Hedingham to 
his father-in-law. What influences may have been at work 
to get him to part with Castle Hedingham to Burleigh it 
is impossible to surmise; but when we find that his father- 
in-law had been complaining of his poverty only a few 
years before, that he had managed to get himself made 
master of the court of royal wards, and that when he died 
he left three hundred landed estates, it needs no stretch 
of imagination to suppose that he had been able to exercise 
over the affairs of other royal wards something of the same 
kind of undue influence which he had evidently been able 
to exert over his youthful son-in-law. 

If, therefore, there Is any character in Shakespeare's 
works whom we may be able to identify with Burleigh, 

to have had him likened to Jephtha, as Ham- 
and Jephtha. ^^^ ^^^^ Polonius, would have been something 

of a slander upon Jephtha. For the conduct 
of this Old Testament character towards ihis daughter 
seems quite respectable compared with the sordid dealings 
of the great Lord Burleigh; and the tears which the latter 
seems ostentatiously to have shed at the death of her whom 
he called his "filla carissima" ought to have sprung from 
the grief of sham.e and repentance rather than the grief 
of bereavement. In the subsequent troubles Burleigh made 
much of the faultiness of Oxford's bearing whilst an In- 
mate of the former's house, and if his accusations were 
found to be well grounded they would only render more 


contemptible the sacrifice he made of his "filia carissima" 
for personal and family ambition. He cannot have it both 

Notwithstanding, therefore, the royal consent, the pomp 
of the ceremony, and the elaborate festivities, it is evident 
that the marriage had not taken place under 
the happiest of auspices for those most im- J^tela^ge'^ 
mediately concerned. To all these initial 
drawbacks must be added the fact that the young couple 
seem to have remained under the eye and direction of the 
lady's father who, we shall presently show, was about as 
incompatible with her husband in disposition, interests and 
circumstances as one man could possibly be with another. 
Oxford's mother-in-law was also an important factor to 
be reckoned with. The stern and vigilant Lady Burleigh 
apparently considered it part of her duty to keep a strict 
watch upon her young son-in-law, and was not afraid of 
rebuking the great Queen Elizabeth herself, then forty 
years of age, for attempting to flirt with the young man. 
The Queen's angry retort that "his lordship (Burleigh) 
winketh at these love affairs," is illuminating on more points 
than one, and helps us to envisage the whole moral situa- 
tion. Finally, whatever the actual facts behind Burleigh's 
general accusations against Oxford whilst he was an inmate 
of the Cecil home, it is quite evident that Oxford's relation- 
ships with the family had not been harmonious, and only the 
best of luck and the utmost circumspection all round cnuld 
have averted disaster. 

As the personality of Elizabeth's great minister looms 
large in the life of the poet during the years immediately 
following the marriage, and probably exer- 
cised an influence over the whole of his career, Burk^igh^"^ 
It is necessary that the character of their re- 
lationship should be duly weighed. It is no part of our 
business to estimate Burleigh's value as a statesman or 
politician, nor c\en to take his moral measure as a whole. 
Tt is his dealings with one man that concern us, and how 


these dealings would be likely to impress the man in ques- 
tion. In brief, we are concerned principally with Bur- 
leigh's dealings with Oxford, from Oxford's point of view. 

On the one hand we have a man who for many years 
had maintained a supreme position in the political world 
at a time when such eminence could only be secured and 
retained by the most shifty opportunism. On the other 
hand we have a very young man, hardly more than a boy, 
with the sensitive and idealist temperament of the poet, 
keenly alive to the literary and intellectual movements of 
his time, and with a fervent attachment to the departing 
feudal order, the social and moral principles of which were 
at direct variance with the political opportunism of the age 
in which he lived. To the young man, politics, in their 
contemporary sense, would be as great an abomination, as 
they would be a ruling interest in the mind of the elder 
man. It is difficult, therefore, to conceive of two men more 
thoroughly antipathetical or less likely to understand each 
other. If, then, we recollect that the younger one had 
been subjected to the elder one's dominance from child- 
hood, it speaks well for the former's strength of character 
and the decided bent of his genius, that his literary and 
poetic inclinations were not crushed by the weight of the 
influences working against them. 

As some of the admirers of Burleigh have tried to make 
out that his influence was favourable to the literary move- 
m.ent of the times, w^e can, perhaps, best 
literary men. J^^g^ ^'^^ ^^ ^^^^ respect by indicating his 
relationship to the second genius of that age, 
the poet Spenser. One or two expressions from Church's 
life of the poet will suffice : — 

"Burleigh's dislike to Spenser" (p. 47). 

"Burleigh hated him and his verses" (p. 87). 

"Under what was popularly thought the crabbed and parsimonious 
administration of Burleigh .... it seemed as if the poetry of 
the time was passing away in chill discouragement" (p. 107). 


No treatment of the question of Burleigh's dealings 
with other men would be adequate which omitted to men- 
tion the system of espionage which he prac- 
tised. Even his eulogists are compelled to esp^io^nage. 
admit the far-reaching and intricate ramifica- 
tions of the system he set up, the application of it to even 
those servants of the state who had every reason to believe 
themselves most trusted, and the low, unscrupulous charac- 
ter of the agents he employed to watch men of high station 
and approved honour. 1 he article on Burleigh in the Dic- 
tionary of National Biography, which is very partial to- 
wards its subject, nevertheless admits all this, and it ap- 
pears occasionally in the "Life of Spenser," of which we 
have made frequent use. Of course his admirers find a 
justification for this in the dangers to which his life was 
exposed. Other men in exalted positions have, however, 
been exposed to similar dangers and some of them have 
had to protect themselves by similar means, but have been 
able to do it without outraging the sense of decency to the 
same extent as was done by Burleigh. It is quite evident, 
moreover, from G, Ravenscroft Dennis's work on "The 
House of Cecil," that when his eldest son, Thomas, after- 
wards Earl of Exeter, was in Paris, Burleigh had him 
watched and secretly reported on, quite in the manner of 
Polonius's employment of the spy Reynaldo. In this case 
no such excuse as that proffered would apply. It seems 
more like the insensibility of a vulgar nature to the require- 
ments of ordinary decency. The man who, having risen to 
eminence through his patron, the Duke of Somerset, saved 
himself when his patron fell by drawing up the articles 
of impeachment against his benefactor, was perhaps unable 
to believe that others could act from higher motives than 
his own, and was prepared to trust nobody. Certainly, no 
one could feci himself free from the attentions of Bur- 
leigh's spies, and least ot all the son-in-law who knew that, 
beneath any external show of amicability, there lay between 
them a natural and rooted antipathy. 


In these spying methods of Burleigh's we may possibly 
find an explanation of a mysterious incident recorded as 
happening prior to Oxford's marriage, espe- 
fragedy.^ ^ially if we suppose Oxford to be "Shake- 

speare." Oxford had inflicted a wound on an 
under-cook in Burleigh's employ, and this wound un- 
fortunately proved fatal. None of the circumstances are 
told, possibly because they are unknown, but, like every- 
thing else, the event must needs be set down to Oxford's 
discredit. Now, remembering Burleigh's spying methods 
and the peculiar circumstances under which Polonius re- 
ceived his death wound at the hands of Hamlet, we may 
possibly find in the drama a suggestion of something that 
had actually happened in the experience of its author; 
especially in view of Hamlet's exclamation: 

"Thou wretched, rash, intruding fool, farewell! 

/ took thee for thy better." 

If, then. In Shakespeare there is any character whom we 

might identify with Burleigh we should expect to find a 

spying craftiness amongst his characteristics. This, of 

course. Is the case with Polonius. 

In the thinly-veiled conflict between the two men it is 

evident that Burleigh had not all his own way. Accustomed 

as he had been to the thought of others yield- 
Hostility. . ..... f . . ., , 

mg to his dommation — a dommation possibly 

less real than he Imagined, as he appears to have been 
more of an instrument In the hands of his capable mistress 
and less a ruling power than he supposed — treated as he 
undoubtedly had been with extreme deference by one of 
the most autocratic of a despotic dynasty, he nevertheless 
found himself contradicted, remonstrated with, and em- 
barrassed by a son-in-law who was little more than a boy, 
and who undoubtedly regarded the great minister as belong- 
ing to an inferior order. 

It Is diflicult to appreciate the point of view of writers 


who speak of Oxford's "ingratitude" to Burleigh, and of 
his having added to his own eminence by mar- Burleigh's 
riage. The fact is they merely repeat Bur- charge of 

, . , , / • .u J "ingratitude." 

leigh s own account as it appears m the docu- 
ments he has left. As master of the court of royal wards, 
Burleigh had had charge of Oxford and had used his posi- 
tion both to elevate the social prestige of his own family 
and to add to his own estates. So far as De Vere is con- 
cerned it is difficult to see that he owed any substantial ad- 
vantage to his connection with Burleigh; whilst the latter 
was undoubtedly the source of a very great deal that acted 
as a drag upon the life of his son-in-law, interfering with 
the natural expansion of his powers, intensifying the 
chagrins of domestic trouble, and fastening a stigma on his 
reputation. We have already referred to Burleigh's re- 
peated thwarting of Oxford's desire for a more useful 
career and a more extended experience of life; and what- 
ever reason he may have offered, it is quite clear that be- 
hind it all there was no real friendliness towards the younger 
man. The pretence of a good motive behind the repeated 
refusal — that he hoped the Queen might find something 
better for him — is so evidently a subterfuge as to make 
the real hostility all the more evident. 

Nor is it the only instance in which we find Burleigh 
trying to give a gloss of friendliness to his attempts to 
injure his son-in-law. Some years later, when 
Oxford was in trouble with the authorities, HatTon. ^" 
we find Burleigh appealing to Raleigh and 
Hatton to use their influence with Queen Elizabeth on Ox- 
ford's behalf. This reads at first like a friendly act. When, 
however, we remember that Raleigh was possibly the one 
man about court whom his royal mistress most delighted in 
teasing; whose real influence with the Queen was practically 
negligible; and between whom and Oxford there was a long- 
standing antagonism; if to all this we add the fact that 
Burleigh, in making the appeal to Hatton, uses the occasion 
to gather together all the charges he can formulate against 


the very man for whom he is supposed to be interceding, 
and pours them into unfriendly ears — for Hatton also was 
of the hostile party and wrote a letter of complaint to 
Queen Elizabeth speaking of himself as the "sheep" and 
Oxford as the "boar" — we can only w^onder at the clumsi- 
ness of a manoeuvre, hardly entitled to rank even as low 

As we have had occasion thus to mention the unfriendly 
relationship of Oxford to Raleigh we may see a reflection 
of it in Shakespeare's allusion to "the sanctimonious pirate 
that went to sea with the Ten Commandments, but scraped 
one out of the table, 'Thou shalt not steal.' " ("Measure 
for Measure.") For it is not easy to reconcile the religious 
pietism of Raleigh's poetry with certain of his well-known 
sea-faring episodes. The moral standards of the time are 
sometimes urged in extenuation of Raleigh's doings; but 
Burleigh himself, to his credit, disapproved of the great 
sailor's buccaneering, although on the other hand he saw 
that the Queen secured some share of the spoil. 

We cannot yet piece together with a sense of true 
sequence the recorded details of the early life of Oxford. 
It is evident, however, that such efforts to ob- 
traveh °^ ^^^^ ^ relief from court life in a life of wider 

experience and greater usefulness as he had 
made before his marriage, were repeated after his mar- 
riage, and still without success : presenting a shameful con- 
trast to the treatment extended to his rival Sidney. Oxford 
was one of the foremost and wealthiest of the nobility; 
Sidney at the time was simply Master Philip Sidney; for he 
only rose to the inferior honour of knighthood three years 
before his death. He was considered too poor to marry 
a daughter of Burleigh's, and he was more than four and 
a half years younger than Oxford. Yet, at the age of 
seventeen, Sidney began his travels on the Continent, visit- 
ing Paris, Frankfort, Vienna, Hungary and Venice, and 
having every facility afforded him for meeting prominent 
men. On the other hand, Oxford with his superior social 


position, wealth, culture and genius, at the age of twenty- 
four was still to be kept at home in the leading strings of an 
uncongenial father-in-law. It is difficult, even for those 
who are in no way involved, and after a lapse of nearly 
three hundred and fifty years, to contemplate such treat- 
ment without a feeling of indignation. Certainly the man 
who was responsible for it was no friend to the Earl of 

At length, finding his entreaties useless, he resolved to 
take the law into his own hands, and, in 1574, without the 
consent of the authorities, left the country in Bertram's 
order to fulfil his purpose of travelling on the unauthorized 
continent. He had got no further than the 
Low Countries when he was overtaken by Burleigh's 
emissaries and brought back. Again we find the extraordi- 
nary parallel between the Earl of Oxford and Bertram, in 
''All's Well," maintained. Bertram had begged in vain to 
be allowed to undertake military service just as Oxford had 
done. He had begged to travel only to be put off with 
specious excuses, " 'too young' and 'the next year' and ' 'tis 
too early,' " until, yielding to the suggestion of some friend 
(Act II, i) he exclaims, in a passage already quoted: 

"I shall stay here the forehorse to a smock, 
Creaking my shoes on the plain masonry, 
Till honour be bought up and no sword worn 
But one to dance with. By heavens! I'll steal away." 

This he did forthwith. 

We venture to say that it would be difficult to find in 
English literature a closer analogy anywhere between the 
particulars narrated of a fictitious personage and the de- 
tailed records of a living contemporary than we have here 
between Bertram and the Earl of Oxford. Shakespeare's 
partiality for the Earls of Oxford has already been pointed 
out ("Henry VI," part 3). His interest in the particular 
Earl who was then living, and who was a poet and dram- 
atist, is the most natural assumption. Whether, therefore. 


the Earl of Oxford was the writer of the play, "All's Well," 
or not, one cannot doubt, in the face of such a continued 
parallelism, that the man who wrote the play had the Earl 
of Oxford in his mind as the prototype of Bertram. 
Amongst the records of royal wards of the time we can 
find no other instance which touches Bertram at so many 
points. Reiterating a principle, therefore, upon which we 
have Insisted from the first, we would urge that to discover 
such a parallelism in Shakespeare's works at an advanced 
stage of the investigation strengthens our convictions im- 
measurably more than If the case of Bertram and its 
analogy with Oxford had been known before the selection 
was made. 

The special point with which we are now dealing — 
the obstacles thrown In the way of a young man's w4sh to 

cu 1 travel — appears again In "Hamlet." Laertes 

Shakespeare , ^^ , *= 

and travel. applies for the king's permission to go abroad, 

and the king asks, "Have you your father's 

leave? What says Polonius?" To which Polonius replies : 

"He hath, my lord, wrung from me my slow leave 
By laboursome petition, and at last 
Upon his will I seal'd my hard consent: 
I do beseech you, give him leave to go." 

Then there Is the king and queen's opposition to Hamlet's 
wish to go to Wittenberg, and the false reasons assigned: 

King : 

"It is most retrograde to our desire; 
And we beseech you, bend you to remain 
Here in the cheer and comfort of our eye, 
Our chiefest courtier, cousin, and our son." 

Again we notice that it is Polonius who is chiefly op- 
posed to his son's travelling, exactly as Burleigh raised his 
own opposition into a settled maxim of policy: 

"Suffer not thy sons to cross the Alps .... and if by travel 
they get a few broken languages they shall profit them nothing more 
^than to have one meat served up in divers dishes." 

(Burleigh's maxims — Martin A. S. Hume.) 


Resuming the story of De Vere's early manhood, we 
find that in the year following his abortive attempt to travel 
he was at last granted permission to go 
abroad. How important a matter this was to naiy. 
him may be judged by the fact that it is 
spoken of as "the ambition of his life"; yet by this time he 
was twenty-five and a half years old, and inferior men 
had enjoyed the privilege whilst in their teens. Even at 
this age he had only been able to wring the concession from 
Elizabeth by means of entreaties; and, considering the 
favour and indulgence that the Queen showed to him both 
before and after this, it appears as if the concession had at 
last been gained in spite of the covert opposition of his 
father-in-law. In view of all this the speech of Polonius's 
just quoted is of extraordinary significance. In October, 
1575, then, he reached Venice, having travelled by way of 

Our present business being to trace in the works of 

Shakespeare indications of the life and circumstances of 

the Earl of Oxford we ought not to leave this 

question of foreign travel without drawmg at- ^nd travel. 

tention to the play of Shakespeare's in which '^^^ 

. . . Caentlemen. 

this subject comes m for special treatment, 
namely, "The Two Gentlemen of Verona." The date usually 
assigned to this work is 1590-92; that is to say it is recog- 
nized as being amongst the first of Shakespeare's dramas, 
although it was not published until it appeared in the Folio 
edition of 1623. Now we find that a play whose title is 
suggestive of this one was being acted by the company of 
Anthony Munday, who more than ten years before the date 
assigned to this drama acknowledged himself the servant 
of ,the Earl of Oxford. As Munday's play, "The Two 
Italian Gentlemen," may have formed the basis for Shake- 
speare's work, it is not improbable that the latter was, in 
fact, the first play of Shakespeare's and may, if we assume 
the De Vere authorship, have been begun shortly after his 
return from Italy. It is worth remarking, too, that in it 


the scene moves from Verona to Milan, a town specially 
mentioned in the slight record of Oxford's travels. We 
have had occasion, moreover, to point out already a very 
striking parallel between the early work of De Vere and 
the discussion on love with which this particular play opens. 
On the subject of travel we have first of all Valentine's 
statement that "Home-keeping youth have ever homely 
wits," followed by his urging Proteus, 

To see the wonders of the world abroad, 
Than, living dully sluggardised at home. 
Wear out thy youth with shapeless idleness." 

This is followed in Act III by Panthino's taxing the 
father of Proteus with having suffered him, 

"to spend his youth at home, 
While other men of slender reputation 
Put forth their sons to seek preferment out." 

He therefore proceeds to "importune" him, 

"To let him spend his time no more at home. 
Which would be great impeachment to his age, 
In having known no travel in his youth." 

To this the father of Proteus replies: 

"I have considered well his loss of time. 
And how he cannot be a perfect man. 
Not being tried and tutor'd in the world." 

On the one hand we cannot ascribe these lines to a man 
indifferent to foreign travel, and on the other hand it is 
difficult to think of them as being written by one who had 
found the way to foreign travel readily open to him. Every- 
thing points to the writer being one who had chafed at 
"living dully, sluggardised at home," and who had had to 
fight to get himself "tried and tutor'd in the world"; whilst 
"men of slender reputation" had been freely accorded the 
advantages which had been denied to himself. 


Before leaving the play of "The Two Gentlemen of 
Verona," we notice that the passage just quoted is followed 
by another which touches a point already o^^^p^^^ns. 
mentioned elsewhere: 

"'Twere good, I think, your lordship sent him thither: 
(to the royal court) 
There shall he practise tilts and tournaments, 
Hear sweet discourse, converse with noblemen, 
And be in eye of every exercise 
Worthy his youth and nobleness of birth." 

Associate this with Edward de Vere and again we have 
a case in which comment is superfluous. To think of the 
passage coming from a writer of lower or middle class 
origin demands considerable credulity. Every word be- 
speaks the special interests of De Vere, and pulsates with 
that excessive respect for high birth which is common to 
De Vere and "Shakespeare." 

The records give no indication as to how his time was 
spent in Italy. This could only be learnt accurately from 
himself, and as a large reserve and secretive- ^^^^^^ .^ 
ness in respect to his doings seem to have j^aly. 
been characteristic of him throughout, we can 
only surmise what his occupation would be durmg the six 
months of his stay. Considering, however, the literary and 
dramatic movement in Italy at the time, his own particular 
bent, and the course his life took after his return to Eng- 
land, there can be little doubt as to his chief interest whilst 
in that country. He would be much more likely to be found 
cultivating the acquaintance of those literary and play-acting 
people of whom his father-in-law would disapprove, than 
mixing in the political and diplomatic circles that the great 
minister would consider proper to an eminent English noble- 


As an illustration of a principle and g^ptista 
method upon which much stress has been laid Minor's 
throughout these researches we would draw 
attention to a detail in connection with Oxford's Italian tour 


which, though slight in itself, adds much to that sense of 
versimilitude that has followed the investigations at each 
step. Whilst looking up references to Oxford in the pub- 
lished Hatfield manuscripts we noticed the record of a letter 
he had addressed to Burleigh from Italy. It is but a brief 
note concerned solely with the fact that he had borrowed 
five hundred crowns from some one named Baptista 
Nigrone, and requesting Burleigh to raise the money by 
the sale of some of his lands — a method of raising money 
which appears more than once in the pages of "Shake- 

As some discussion has taken place over Shakespeare's 
use of the name "Baptista," its presence in this note of Ox- 
ford's naturally arrested attention, and the thought im- 
mediately presented itself that if Oxford were actually the 
writer of the play in which Baptista, the rich gentleman of 
Padua, appears ("The Taming of the Shrew") we should 
expect to find "crowns" introduced into the drama in some 
marked way, and probably in association with Baptista 
Minola himself. And this is so. As a matter of fact these 
particular coins are much more to the front here than in 
any other of Shakespeare's Italian plays. They are men- 
tioned no less than six times whilst "ducats" are only twice 
mentioned. On the other hand, in "The Comedy of 
Errors," for example, "ducats" are mentioned ten times 
and "crowns" not at all. "The Merchant of Venice," which 
also contains no mention of "crowns" but abundant refer- 
ences to "ducats" is, for special reasons, unsuitable for pur- 
poses of comparison. What is more to the point than the 
actual number of references in "The Taming of the Shrew," 
is the fact that the crowns of the wealthy Baptista are 
specially in evidence, and enter as an important element into 
the plot. Oxford, it appears from a letter sent home by 
an attendant, spent some time in Padua itself, and seems 
to have been involved in riotous proceedings there : not at 
all unlikely in the creator of the character "Petruchio." 

It may be worth while adding that we even find a sug- 


gestion of Baptlsta's surname, "Minola," in another Italian, 
Benedict Spinola, whose name also appears in connection 
with this tour. Burleigh, it seems, received from him a 
notification of Oxford's arrival in Italy. Benedick in "Much 
Ado" is a nobleman, also of Padua, and these are the only- 
two gentlemen of Padua to be found in Shakespeare's plays. 
It must further be pointed out that the names "Baptista 
Nigrone" and "Benedict Spinola" are not selected from 
amongst a number of others, but are two out of the three 
Italian names with which we have met in connection with 
the Italian tour; and to find that, in combination, they 
almost furnish the identical name of Shakespeare's 
"Baptista Minola," will be admitted by the most sceptical 
as at any rate interesting. Certainly such discoveries as 
that of the place occupied by Baptista's "crowns," agreeing 
with the conclusions of mere a priori reasoning, have added, 
as can be easily imagined, no small spice of excitement to 
our researches. 

After spending about six months in Italy Oxford 
travelled back as far as Paris, and from a letter which he 
wrote there, addressed to Burleigh, it ap- 
pears that he purposed making an extended othdlo ^" 
tour embracing Spain on the one hand, and 
south-eastern Europe, Greece and Constantinople, on the 
other. At this point we approach a great crisis in his life 
which, when his biography comes to be written, will require 
much patient research, and the most careful weighing of 
facts, before a straight story can be made of it or the events 
placed in a clear light. From the documents preserved in 
the Hatfield manuscripts, however, certain facts specially 
relevant to our argument already stand out boldly and dis- 
tinctly. The first is that he expresses a warm regard for 
his wife. The second is that a responsible servant of his, 
his receiver, had succeeded in insinuating into his mind sus- 
picions of some kind respecting Lady Oxford. The third 
is that her father, for some reason or other, recalled Ox- 
ford to England, thus upsetting his project of extended 


travel. The fourth is that on his return he treated his wife 
in a way quite inexplicable to her, refusing to see her; 
whilst she, for her part, showed an earnest desire to ap- 
pease him. The fifth is that reports unfavourable to Lady 
Oxford's reputation gained currency. And the sixth is that 
there seems to have been no shadow of justification for 
these reports. 

It hardly needs pointing out that we have here a great 
many of the outstanding external conditions of Shake- 
speare's celebrated tragedy of jealousy in connubial life : 
"Othello." Brabantio, the father-in-law of Othello, was, 
like Oxford's father-in-law, the chief minister of state and 
a great potentate, having "in his effect a voice potential as 
double as the duke's." Othello himself, like Oxford, was 
one who took his stand firmly and somewhat ostentatiously 
upon the rights and privileges of high birth: 

"I fetch my life and being 
From men of royal siege, and my demerits 
May speak unbonneted to as proud a fortune 
As this that I have reached." 

Desdemona is represented as one who, in the words of her 
father, "was half the wooer," just as Anne Cecil is repre- 
sented in the contemporary letter already quoted; whilst a 
similar youthfulness combined with a premature develop- 
ment along certain lines is expressed in the lines : 

"She that so young could give out such a seeming, 
To seal her father's eyes." 

lago, the arch-insinuator of suspicion, is Othello's own 
"ancient," and occupies a position analogous to Oxford's 
"receiver," who had dropped the poison of suspicion into 
his master's mind. lago's reiterated advice, "Put money 
in thy purse," is redolent of the special functions of Ox- 
ford's receiver: a suggestion repeated in lago's well-known 
speech "Who steals my purse steals trash." So the four 
central figures in this connubial tragedy of real life, Bur- 


leigh, Oxford, Lady Oxford, and Oxford's receiver, are 
exactly represented in Shakespeare's great domestic tragedy 
by Brabantio, Othello, Desdemona, and lago. 

To this correspondence in personnel must be added an 
even more remarkable correspondence in the two-fold 
character of the cause of rupture. Before 
alighting upon this letter of Oxford's and the recall °^ 
memoranda of Burleigh's dealing with the 
crisis, we had supposed that the whole ground of the trouble 
between him and his wife was his being recalled to England 
by her father; she having been a party to the recall. The 
perception that there was yet another cause, suggestive of 
Othello's principal motive, altered the entire aspect of 
things; and this, along with the presence in both cases of 
the subordinate motive — the recall by the lady's father — 
brought the two cases immediately into line with one an- 
other; the whole complex situation finding its expression in 
Desdemona's pathetic and puzzled appeal to Othello: 

"Why do you weep? 
Am I the motives of these tears, my lord? 
If haply you my father do suspect, 
An instrument of this your calling back 
hay not the blame on me." 

It is worth while remarking that Othello was called back 
from Cyprus : the very part of the world which Oxford was 
prevented from visiting by his recall; and that he was called 
back to Venice, the city which Oxford had just left. 

In the light of what we now know of the trouble be- 
tween Lord and Lady Oxford, let the reader go carefully 
over the first two scenes of Act IV in 
"Othello," noticing the intermingling of the ^araHd!"^^ 
two elements of mistrust insinuated by a sub- 
ordinate, and the "commanding home" of Othello. A sense 
of identity — with due allowance for the difference between 
actualities and the poet's dramatization — will, we believe, 
be irresistible. We shall, therefore, finish off this particu- 
lar argument by placing together a sentence taken from a 


letter written by Oxford to Burleigh In which he virtually 
closes the discussion of the subject and a sentence which 
"Shakespeare" introduces by the mouth of a subordinate 
character into the closing part of this particular episode: 


"Neither will he (Oxford) trouble his life any more with such 
troubles and molestations as he has endured, nor to please his lord- 
ship (Burleigh) discontent himself." 

"Shakespeare" {in "Othello"): 

"I will indeed no longer endure it, nor am I yet persuaded to 
put up in peace what already I have foolishly suffered." 

Parallel passages in published writings may only be in- 
stances of plagiarism or unconscious memory. In this case, 
however, the passage published reproduces a sentence of a 
private letter not made public until centuries had elapsed. 
This is all that seems necessary from the point of view of 
this particular argument; and so conclusive does It appear 
that we are almost Inclined to question the utility of ac- 
cumulating further evidence. The letter from which we 
have quoted, w^e remark, contains also a familiar Shake- 
spearean innuendo respecting parentage. It also expresses 
a continued regard for his wife; resenting Burleigh's so 
handhng the matter as to have made her "the fable of the 
world and raising open suspicions to her disgrace." 

What Burleigh's ubiquitous Informers may have re- 
ported leading to Oxford's recall does not appear to be 
known. Certain It is that even from Italy 
rupufrV^ Burleigh's agents had been forwarding re- 

ports the truth of which w^as denied by an 
Italian attendant on Oxford. At any rate Oxford himself 
on his return refused, in a most decided manner, to meet 
his wife. "Until he can better satisfy himself concerning 
certain misllkings," he says, "he Is not determined to ac- 
company her." Whether he suspected her of being a party 
to espionage practised upon him or to attempts at domina- 
tion over him, or whether there were Indeed other hidden 


matters of a graver nature we cannot say. It may not be 
without significance, however, that later on we find one of 
those spying agents of Burleigh's, Geoffrey Fenton, a con- 
tinental traveller and a linguist, dedicating to Lady Oxford 
a translation he had made. 

The cryptic explanation of his conduct which we have 
just quoted seems to have been the only one which Oxford 
would vouchsafe — to Burleigh at any rate. Burleigh com- 
plains of Oxford's taciturnity in the matter: that he would 
only reply, ''/ have answered you" — which is strikingly sug- 
gestive of Shylock's laconic expression ^^Are you answered?'' 
One account suggests that the attitude he assumed on his 
arrival was a sudden and erratic change. If this be correct 
it is certainly suggestive of that lightning-like change one 
notices in Hamlet's bearing towards Ophelia, when he de- 
tects that she is allowing herself to be made the tool of 
her father in spying upon Hamlet himself (Act III, 
scene i). 

As usual the matter is reported as reflecting discredit 
upon Oxford. It was an instance merely of bad behaviour 
towards his wife. One writer, however, states that Oxford 
had at least offered the explanation that his wife was allow- 
ing herself to be influenced by her parents against himself. 
And this Is a reasonable explanation of the only charge that 
Oxford makes against her, at a time when he makes other 
charges against Burleigh's administration of his affairs. 
Lady Oxford's father had undoubtedly treated her husband 
badly, and if she did not hotly resent and repudiate her 
father's actions she must be reckoned as being on his side. 
It was one of those simple cases In which there was no 
midway course possible, and in which it was impossible for 
her husband to mistake the side on which she stood. 

Oxford had at any rate come home with 
his mind fully made up to have done once and personaHty 
for all with Burleigh's domination. That he 
had borne with It at all seems to suggest that there had 
been about his personality something of that mildness of 


manner which dominating men are apt to mistake for weak- 
ness, a supposition to which the only portrait we have seen 
of him, taken at the age of twenty-five, seems to lend sup- 
port. Certainly his poetry testifies to an affectionateness 
that might easily be so misconstrued. When such men 
are at last driven to strike, their blows have frequently 
a fierceness that comes as a surprise and a shock to their 
adversaries: and Oxford's poetry does indeed display a 
capacity for fierce outbursts. We suspect that something 
of this kind happened in the present instance. Burleigh 
had adopted a policy in relation to Oxford that the latter 
was not prepared to tolerate any longer. Anne, during 
the five years of married life, had passed from girlhood 
into womanhood. Her father had created a situation in 
which she must choose definitely between father and hus- 
band. The unravelling of the facts and their proper in- 
terpretation must, however, form matter for future investi- 

Most writers agree that much of Oxford's subsequent 
conduct was dictated by a determination to revenge him- 
self on Burleigh for some reason or other; and that his 
plans of revenge included the squandering of his own 
estates, and separation from his wife. Castle Hedingham 
in Essex which Oxford had made over to Burleigh, we are 
told in local histories was almost razed completely, by Ox- 
ford's orders, as part of his plan of revenge. How he 
could have razed a castle which was no longer his own we 
do not pretend to explain: we merely repeat in this matter 
what is recorded. The following two stanzas from one of 
his early poems are, however, of special interest in this 
connection : — 

"I am no sot to suffer such abuse, 

As doth bereave my heart of his delight; 
Nor will I frame myself to such as use, 

With calm consent to suffer such despite. 
No quiet sleep shall once possess mine eye. 
Till wit have wrought his will on injury. 


My heart shall fail and hand shall lose his force, 
But some device shall pay Despite his due; 

And fury shall consume my careful corse, 

Or raze the ground whereon my sorrow grew. 

Lo, thus in rage of ruthful mind refus'd, 

I rest revenged on whom I am abus'd." 

The old records suggest a political motive — the im- 
prisonment and execution of his kinsman the Duke of Nor- 
folk — for Oxford's scheme of revenge. If, however, we 
may connect it with these verses, as we reasonably may, 
it is evident that the motive was much more directly per- 
sonal to himself. If, moreover, we connect It with these 
pohtical matters the time is carried back to the year 1572: 
the year immediately following his marriage. The dis- 
entangling of events and dates In these matters we do not 
feel to be sufficiently pressing to demand the arrest of our 
present argument. 

Without waiting, therefore, for these obscurities to be 

cleared up, we may Introduce now what has been the most 

remarkable piece of evidence met with In the ^ sensa- 

whole course of our Investigations: a dis- tional 

1 -J 1-1 ^' Cu 4.1.' discovery, 

covery made a considerable time arter this 

work had been virtually completed and Indeed after it had 
already passed Into other hands. This evidence Is concerned 
with the play, ''All's Well"; the striking parallelism be- 
tween the principal personage in the drama and the Earl 
of Oxford having led us to adopt It as the chief support of 
our argument at the particular stage with which we are 
now occupied. This argument was carried forward to its 
present stage at the time when our discovery was announced 
to the librarian of the British Museum. What we have 
now to state was not discovered until some months later. 
In tracing the parallelism between Bertram r^^^ ch'max 
and Oxford we confined our attention to the to "All's 
Incidentals of the play, In the belief that the 
central Idea of the plot — the entrapping of Bertram into 
marital relationships with his own wife, In order that 


she might bear him a child unknown to himself — was 
wholly derived from Boccaccio's story of Bertram. The 
discovery, therefore, of the following passage in Wright's 
"History of Essex" furnishes a piece of evidence so totally 
unexpected, and forms so sensational a climax to an already 
surprising resemblance that, on first noticing it, we had 
some difficulty in trusting our own eyes. We would will- 
ingly be spared the penning of such matter : its importance 
as evidence does not, however, permit of this. Speaking of 
the rupture between the Earl of Oxford and his wife, 
Wright tells us that, "He (Oxford) forsook his lady's bed, 
(but) the father of Lady Anne by stratagem, contrived that 
her husband should unknowingly sleep with her, believing 
her to be another woman, and she bore a son to him in 
consequence of this meeting" (Wright's "History of 
Essex," vol. I, p. 5 1 7 ) . The only son of the Lady Anne, we 
may mention, died in infancy. 

Thus even in the most extraordinary feature of this 
play; a feature which hardly one person in a million would 
for a moment have suspected of being anything else but 
an extravagant invention, the records of Oxford are at 
one with the representation of Bertram. It is not neces- 
sary that we should believe the story to be true, for no 
authority for it is vouchsafed. A memorandum in the Hat- 
field manuscripts to the effect that Burleigh laid before the 
Master of the Rolls and others some private matter respect- 
ing this domestic rupture may, however, have had reference 
to this. The point which matters is that this extraordinary 
story should be circulated in reference to the Earl of Ox- 
ford; making it quite clear that either Oxford was the actual 
prototype of Bertram, In which case false as well as true 
stories of the Earl might be worked Into the play, or he 
was supposed to be the prototype and was saddled with the 
story in consequence. In any case, the connection between 
the two Is now as complete as accumulated evidence can 
make It. We hesitate to make reflections upon prospective 
dissentients; but we feel entitled to assert that the man who 


does not now acknowledge a connection of some sort be- 
tween Edward de Vere and Bertram In "All's Well," has 
not the proper faculty for weighing evidence. 

Having thus raised the peculiar situation, represented 
in the play, in relation to our problem, we notice something 
analogous repeated in the relationship be- 
tween Angelo and Mariana In "Measure for Angelo and 

. . . ivianana. 

Measure along with the fact that Angelo 

specifies a period of "five years" between the making of 
the marriage arrangement and the special episode (V, i) : 
the exact period between the date of Oxford's marriage 
and the particular time with which we are now dealing 
(1571-1576). Angelo also remarks : — 

"I do perceive 
These poor informal women are no more 
But instruments of some more mightier member 
That sets them on. Let me have way, my lord, 
To find this practice out." 

With such possibilities of discovery lying in the play 
of "All's Well," it is not surprising that after having first 
of all appeared under the title of "Love's Labour's Won," 
It should have disappeared for a full generation, and then, 
when the Earl of Oxford had been dead for nearly twenty 
years, reappeared under a new name. "Measure for 
Measure" Is also one of the plays not published until 1623, 
although It had been played in 1604. 

The one thing that stands out clearly from all these 
events Is an unmistakable antagonism between Oxford and 
Burleigh, over which Burleigh especially tries g , . , 
to throw a cloak of benevolence. His next and Oxford's 
move Is somewhat astute: he seems to have ^^P"*^^^^"- 
given it out that the Earl had been enticed away "by lewd 
persons." There is no suggestion, however, that Anne had 
left Oxford, or that Burleigh had sought to separate them 
because of dissoluteness on the Earl's part. The facts all 
point unquestionably in the opposite direction: for It was 
he who exerted all his influence to bring about a rap- 


prochement when the mischief had been done. There was, 
therefore, no question of protecting a daughter against a 
profligate husband; and if his charges against Oxford were 
well founded it is upon the character of Burleigh himself 
that they react most disastrously. For it is hardly possible 
to conceive a more despicable character than that of a father 
exerting himself to throw back his daughter into the arms 
of her dissolute husband when she had been delivered from 
him by his ow^n voluntary act. The probability is that Bur- 
leigh himself did not believe his own accusations, and that 
they were a mere ruse de guerre on the part of an un- 
scrupulous and crafty fighter. Had he believed his own 
story he ought rather to have rejoiced at the turn things 
had taken. 

The real root of much of the trouble, it is easy to see, 
was the control that Burleigh attempted to exercise over 
Oxford's movements; the purely negative 
Sterfe^ence ^^^ restrictive control of a man whose 
exercise of powder, even in the great- 
est affairs of state, was always governed by considerations 
of himself, his family, his own policy and his instruments. 
To a man of Oxford's spirit the position must have been 
irksome in the extreme; and when we find the fact of his 
being held in leading strings pointedly alluded to in a poem 
of Edmund Spenser's, it must have been specially galling. 
If, then, Oxford succeeded in making himself a thorn in 
the flesh of his dominating relative, we shall probably agree 
that the astute minister had at last met his match and got 
hardly more than he deserved. Lady Oxford's fault was 
probably no worse than that of having weakly succumbed 
to a masterful father, or rather two masterful parents. 
Ophelia's weakness, then, in permitting herself to be made 
her father's tool in intruding upon Hamlet, certainly sug- 
gests her as a possible dramatic analogue to the unfortunate 
Lady Oxford. 

One is always upon uncertain ground in attempting to 
lay bare the facts which have lain behind the effusions of 


poets. A note recurs in more than one poem of De 
Vere's which seems to point to this trouble between 
himself and his wife. From the dates given ^^^^^^,^ 
we judge them to belong to this particular affe^Uons. 
time of crisis in his life; and if the ref- 
erence is actually to the breach between them, it would seem 
that, notwithstanding the course he had been obliged to 
take, there had been awakened in him an intense affection 
for his wife. This is certainly the peculiar situation repre- 
sented in the poems : affection of the poet for one who had 
formerly sought him but who had become in some way at 
variance with him. We give two stanzas from separate 
poems on this theme: 

"O cruel hap and hard estate 

That forceth me to love my foe; 
Accursed be so foul a fate, 

My choice for to prefix it so. 
So long to fight with secret sore, 
And find no secret salve therefor." 

"Betray thy grief thy woeful heart with speed; 
Resign thy voice to her that caused thee woe; 
With irksome cries bewail thy late done deed, 

For she thou lov'st is sure thy mortal foe. 
And help for thee there is none sure, 
But still in pain thou must endure." 

(As we shall have to refer to this stanza in deahng 
with the question of "Spenser's Willie" we ask the reader 
to keep it in mind.) 

These two poems, both published when Oxford was but 
twenty-six years old, are certainly suggestive of Bertram's 
reference to Helena as one "whom since I have lost have 
loved." In the play of "All's Well," everything works out 
to a satisfactory conclusion. In real life things do not 
always so work out, and though Oxford and his wife were 
ultimately, in some sort, reconciled, we are assured that 
henceforth the relationship between them was not alto- 
gether cordial. 

Whatever view may be taken of Burleigh's character. 


and of the antagonism between him and Oxford, every 
record testifies unmistakably to the former's 
the traces.^^^ wish to exercise an unwarrantable ascendancy 
over the movements of the latter. Had Ox- 
ford been an adventurer and a needy supplicant for court 
favour like Raleigh, or one desirous of political and diplo- 
matic advancement like Sidney, Burleigh's methods for hold- 
ing him in subjection might have succeeded permanently. 
At this time, however, there was nothing in the shape 
of wealth or social eminence, which others sought that 
was not already his; and ambitions after military or naval 
glory, such as could only be realized through the co-opera- 
tion of those in power, he seems definitely to have aban- 
doned after his return from Italy. Henceforward his pow- 
ers and interests seem to have been concentrated in litera- 
ture and drama. Many of the poems from which we have 
quoted seem to have been published, and some of them 
evidently written, just about this time. His letter to Beding- 
field, so completely free from any suggestion of personal 
unhappiness, was, in fact, written just at this time. In 
view of the whole of the circumstances, then, it seems quite 
safe to say that he returned from Italy, being then close on 
twenty-six years of age, with his mind finally determined 
on a literary and dramatic career. In this he was in no way 
dependent upon the authorities, and viewing the attitude of 
his powerful relative as a sheer impertinence he was at lib- 
erty to set him at defiance. 

The path he had chosen was one, however, in which 
he might expect to meet with still greater hostility from 
Oxford Burleigh; though now the hostility would be 

"takes his more Or less baffled and impotent. His plans 

not being confided to those with whom he was 
in direct personal contact, would involve a good deal of 
reserve on his side, permit a similar amount of misconstruc- 
tion on theirs, and afford free scope for efforts at working 
the situation to his discredit. This, it appears, is just what 
did happen. 


The reference In Shakespeare's sonnets to a time of 
special crisis when "he took his way" has already been 
mentioned. Amongst the things which he kept "to his own 
use" "under truest bars" we may reckon the manuscripts 
at which he was working.* From a remark In one of Ox- 
ford's letters (Hatfield MSS.) It appears that he was oc- 
customed to take with him, when going Into the country, 
important papers secured in a small desk. His secret 
treasures would, no doubt. Include also those Italian plays 
and other Important documents which we now know were 
freely used by the great dramatist in the composition of 
his works. That De Vere would bring back such things 
from Italy it is impossible to doubt. The number and ex- 
penslveness of the articles he brought home from his Italian 
tour Is dwelt upon at length, and in much detail. In the 
account from which many of our facts are taken. It is al- 
most absurd to suppose that he brought back all these 
goods and omitted to bring with him just those things that 
touched his own keenest interest most directly. And It 
would be just such literary treasures that, as Shakespeare, 
he would guard : 

"That to his use they might unused stay 
From hands of falsehood in sure wards of trust." 

The fulfilment of the purpose we suppose him to have 
set himself, involved his throwing himself into those literary 
and dramatic circles whose character has been Burleigh's 
already described. This Is what we suppose methods of 
Burleigh to refer to in speaking of his being 
enticed away by "lewd persons." It is remarkable, how- 
ever, that, although we have an abundance of such general 
accusations against him, we have not been able to discover, 
up to the present, a single authoritative case In which his 
name appears In a discreditable personal connection; not- 
withstanding the fact that, through the records of those 

* Note. — Amongst complaints formulated against his father-in-law and 
wife, Oxford states that he had been refused possession of some of his own 
writings. (Hat. MSS.) 


times, the evidence of such affairs in the lives of eminent 
people is only too frequent and unmistakable. 

Of all the artifices by which an older man may seek to 
maintain an ascendancy over a younger one, there is hardly 
any more contemptible than that of playing upon his re- 
gard for reputation and good name; and Burleigh, in at- 
tempting to apply this method in bringing pressure to bear 
upon Oxford, was only employing one of his recognized 
stratagems. In this matter w^e are again able to present 
the testimony of no less a witness than the poet Edmund 
Spenser. The following passage taken from his poem, 
"Mother Hubbard's Tale," Dean Church assures us, is 
generally accepted as referring to Burleigh: — 

"No practice sly 
No counterpoint of cunning policy, 
No reach, no breach, that might him profit bring 
But he the same did to his purpose wring. 

* =>! * 

He no account made of nobility. 

All these through feigned crimes he thrust adown 
Or made them dwell in darkness of disgrace." 

The last part of the quotation might almost be sup- 
posed to have direct reference to Burleigh's special treat- 
B 1 i h' ment of the Earl of Oxford himself; whilst 

"cunning the character of trickster, which Spenser fixes 

^^^* upon Elizabeth's great minister, certainly 

meets us at more than one point in his dealings with his 
son-in-law. Indeed it appears almost as if it were a charac- 
ter in which he himself gloried, as the following story which 
we quote from Macaulay shows: — 

"When he (Burleigh) was studying the law at Gray's 
Inn he lost all his furniture and books at the gaming table 
to one of his friends. He accordingly bored a hole in the 
wall which separated his chambers from those of his asso- 
ciate, and at midnight bellowed through the passage threats 
of damnation and calls to repentance in the ears of the 


victorious gambler, who lay sweating with fear all night, 
and refunded his winnings on his knees next day. 'Many 
other the like merry jests,' says his old biographer, 'I have 
heard him tell' " One who thus gloried almost childishly 
in his own low cunning was not the kind of man to stick 
at any "practice sly, or counterpoint of cunning policy,' 
that he could "to his own purpose wring." Edward de Vere 
was certainly "made to dwell in darkness of disgrace" ; and 
no sane reading of Shakespeare's sonnets can avoid the con- 
clusion that "Shakespeare" was one who suffered in the 
same way, whilst no trace of contemporary disrepute has 
been pointed out respecting the Stratford Shakspere. 

Even if Burleigh had good reasons for believing that 
what he was urging against Oxford was true, it seems clear 
that the opportunist minister who "winketh at -p^^^^^^ 
these love affairs" was merely striking at his 
son-in-law's reputation as part of his usual cunning. That 
the attack upon De Vere's good name had not only suc- 
ceeded in injuring him, but had cut him to the quick, is evi- 
dent from the poem on the loss of his good name. That 
the plan did not succeed either in bringing him into sub- 
jection or in diverting him from his purpose is equally clear. 
Indeed, it looks as if, though at great cost to himself, Ox- 
ford had in a measure got the whip hand over Burleigh : 
possibly the only man who was ever able to do this. From 
this time forward his leading interests were literary and 
dramatic. He became "the best of the courtier poets of the 
early days of Queen Elizabeth," and in drama "amongst 
the best in comedy" ; yet the only surviving poems known 
are a few fragments belonging mainly to his youth and early 
manhood, whilst of the fruits of the dramatic activity that 
filled the period of his life with which we are now to deal 
no single example is supposed to be extant— every line is 
supposed to have perished: "lost or worn out." 


Edward de Vere — Middle Period: Dramatic 


Before entering upon a consideration of those dramatic 
enterprises which occupied an important part of the middle 
period of Oxford's life, which we place, in a general way, 
between 1576 and 1590, that is to say from the age of 
twenty-six to forty, we shall dispose first of all of some 'per- 
sonal matters, which we are able to link on to the Italian 
tour and which furnish corroborative evidence of his 
identity with Shakespeare. His stay in Italy, it has already 
been pointed out, had so marked an influence over him as 
to affect his dress and manners and cause him to be 
lampooned as an "Italionated Englishman"; the same 
writer holding him up to ridicule as "a passing singular 
odd man." 

The writer In question was none other than Gabriel 
Harvey, the friend of Edmund Spenser, who, it has been 
Gabriel affirmed, almost succeeded in leading Spenser's 

Harvey and genius astray. The Dictionary of National 

Holof ernes. -n- , • r 1 ^ j £ 

biography gives us a very careful study or 

this curious and learned pedant; and if we assume that the 
writer of Shakespeare's plays was acquainted with him per- 
sonally, we can quite imagine from this account that the 
dramatist had him In mind In the writing of "Love's 
Labour's Lost." We have first of all Berowne's speech on 
studious plodders (I, i) which Is simply portraiture of 
Harvey, even to the touch about 

"These earthly godfathers of heaven's lights." 



For Harvey was, amongst other things, a dabbler in 
astrology. Again in Act IV, 3, we have a return to the 
same antagonism to studious plodding in the remark that 

"Universal plodding poisons up 
The nimble spirit in the arteries." 

The whole spirit of the play is hostile to that merely 
bookish learnedness which is typified by scholars like Gabriel 
Harvey. A living specimen of the scholarly pedant is pre- 
sented in the character of Holofernes, and so realistic is 
the representation that it has been very naturally supposed 
that Shakespeare had some contemporary in mind as the 
prototype of this eccentric pedant. Had the name and 
personality of Gabriel Harvey been previously associated in 
any way with Shakespeare, the problem of Holofernes' 
identification would not have remained unsolved for any 
length of time. William Shakspere of Stratford could 
hardly be expected to know much of Gabriel Harvey, and 
therefore the prototype of Holofernes has remained in 
doubt, notwithstanding the fact that the resemblance was 
recognized by Dean Church ("Life of Spenser," p. 18). 
There is, of course, no correspondence between Holofernes 
in the play and the scriptural, or rather apocryphal charac- 
ter of the same name, who was decapitated by Judith. The 
name is therefore selected evidently for some other reason. 
That reason becomes apparent the moment we put side by 
side with the name of Holofernes that of Hobbinol, the 
name under which Gabriel Harvey appears in Spenser's 
works. For Hobbinol, the name used by Spenser, is gen- 
erally recognized as a rough anagram made from the name 
of Gabriel Harvey, whilst LTolofernes is but another ana- 
gram composed of Spenser's Hobbinol further strengthened 
by the characteristic letter '*r," taken from both Gabriel and 
Harvey and an "f," suggestive of the *'v" in Harvey. The 
choice of an out-of-the-way name as an anagram instead 
of the invention of a new one is characteristic of the more 
subtle genius of Shakespeare. 


If, then, we are justified in connecting Holofernes with 
Gabriel Harvey it becomes impossible to avoid connecting 
the writer of the play with the Earl of Ox- 
Ha^ey.^"^ ford. For this reason: Oxford, as Harvey 
admitted, had extended his customary munifi- 
cence to this scholar when the latter was a poor student 
at the university; and Harvey, on an important occasion, 
had addressed complimentary verses to his benefactor. 
Then behind Oxford's back he had circulated privately 
satirical verses, supposed to be ridiculing the man whom 
he had complimented publicly. Now, turning to "Love's 
Labour's Lost," we find, first of all, a speech of Holofernes' 
which bears some resemblance to the verses In which he 
had ridiculed Oxford (the speech introduced by the Latin 
phrase "Novi hominem," Act V, i). Then, in the by-play 
of the second scene in the same act — and this is really the 
important point — Holofernes is assigned the role of Judas 
Maccabaeus, and by a turn that is given to the dialogue he 
is made to appear as "Judas Iscariot," the "kissing traitor." 
On being twitted on the point he shows resentment as 
though there was in it an allusion to himself. The ingenious 
way in which a part played by an actor is turned into a 
personal attack upon himself is suggestive of a covert per- 
sonal application; and therefore, if it is not a direct con- 
firmation of our theory, it certainly constitutes another 
of the series of surprising coincidences which have appeared 
at every stage of our Investigation. 

Under the old hypothesis of the authorship of Shake- 
speare's works it has been frequently remarked that there 
is no character in the plays that can be identi- 
Berowne. ^^^ ^^^^ ^^^ author himself. If, however, we 

assume the De Vere authorship we may at 
once Identify the author with the character of Berowne 
(BIron, In some editions). For It Is he who mocks Holo- 
fernes as the "kissing traitor." The play as a whole Is a 
satire upon the various affectations of the times : Holofernes 
representing learned affectation, Don Armado representing 



Euphuism, Boyet representing the affectations of courtesy. 
Now the satirist in the play is Berowne, so that he person- 
ates the spirit of the play as a whole, in other words he 
represents the writer, and is indeed the very life and soul 
of the drama, his biting mockery being something of a 
terror to his companions. 

It is interesting to notice, therefore, that Sir Sidney Lee 
connects Rosaline who is loved by Berowne with the "dark 
lady" referred to in the sonnets as being loved by Shake- 
speare; and Mr. Frank Harris makes the same connection, 
thus identifying Berowne with the author of the play. The 
latter writer, though never swerving from the Stratfordian 
view, has done much to destroy the old notion that there 
is no character in the plays who can be identified with 
Shakespeare. He nevertheless asserts that Shakespeare 
usually represents himself as a lord or a king. If, then, we 
can accept Berowne as the dramatist's representation of 
himself under one aspect, we see at once how much more 
accurately he represents the Earl of Oxford than he does 
the Stratford man. "This mad-cap Lord Berowne," "a 
man replete with mocks, full of comparisons and wounding 
flouts which he on all estates will execute," is just what we 
have in a few of the glimpses we get of Oxford's dealings 
with the people about the court. All that merciless mock- 
ery, which Berowne does not hesitate to turn upon himself, 
mixed with depth of feeling and strong intelligence, and his 
irrepressible fun tinged with "musing sadness," marks him 
both as a dramatic representation of the Earl of Oxford, 
and, in part at any rate, a dramatic self-revelation of 

We take this play to be largely rcprescntati\'e of him- 
self during the years in which, whilst still to be found at 
court, he was mainly occupied with litera- , 

^ , ^ Love s 

ture and drama, and was earnmg for Labour's 
himself the title of "the best in comedy." ^°^*- 
Whether he succeeded at last, as Rosaline had urged 
Berowne "To weed this wormwood from his fruit- 


ful brain," we will not venture to say. Certain it is that 
amongst the courtiers of the time he appears to have had 
a reputation for stinging jibes, of which both Sidney and 
Raleigh seem to have come in for their share. 

The quarrel with Sidney, in which he stung his ad- 
versary with the single word "puppy," is one of the few 
pj^.j. details recorded of his life about the court 

Sidney and in the early years of this period. The story 
°^^ * of the quarrel is variously told, differing in 

so much as this, that one account speaks of Sidney playing 
tennis when Oxford intruded, whilst another records that 
Oxford was playing when Sidney strolled in. In whichever 
way the story is told it must needs be so as to reflect dis- 
credit upon Oxford and credit upon his antagonist. The 
chief contemporary authority for the details, however, ap- 
pears to be Fulke Greville, and when it is remembered that 
Greville was the life-long friend of Sidney, and that when 
he died, as Lord Brooke, he left instructions that this 
friendship should be recorded upon his tombstone, we can 
hardly regard him as an impartial authority. 

One particular of this antagonism is, however, relevant 
to our present enquiry and must be narrated. Oxford had 
written some lines (again the familiar six- 
jjjng." lined stanza) which are spoken of by two 

writers as specially "melancholy." They 
may be so, but they are certainly not more melancholy than 
many passages in "Shakespeare's" sonnets, and are quite 
in harmony with that substratum of melancholy which has 
been traced in the Shakespeare plays. 

Oxford's stanza : 

"Were I a king I might command content, 
Were I obscure unknown would be my cares, 
And were I dead no thoughts should me torment, 
Nor words, nor v/rongs, nor love, nor hate, nor fears. 
A doubtful choice of three things one to crave, 
A kingdom or a cottage or a grave." 

Sir Phhu- Sidnkv, from thk Mimatlrk by Isaac Oliver 




Melancholy or not, the Shakespeare student will have 
no difficulty in recognizing in this single stanza several 
marks of the master craftsman. 

To this Sidney had replied in the following verse — 
which the same two writers, curiously enough, refer to in 
identical terms, as being a sensible reply: — 

"Wert thou a king, yet not command content, 
Since empire none thy mind could yet sufiice, 
Wert thou obscure, still cares would thee torment; 
But v\''ert thou dead ail care and sorrow dies. 
An easy choice of three things one to crave, 
No kingdom nor a cottage but a grave." 

These two stanzas form an important part of another argu- 
ment, to be treated later, and, therefore, should be kept 
in mind. 

It will be observed that the "sensible reply" contains no 
really inventive composition. It is a mere schoolboy 
parody, formed by twisting the words and rj.^^ tennis- 
phrases of the original stanza into an affront, court 
Had it been an inventive composition it would 
have contained more matter than Sidney ever compressed 
into an equal space. Between two intimate friends it might 
have been tolerated as a harmless piece of banter. Be- 
tween two antagonists it lacked even the justification of 
original wit. And if, as one writer suggests, this matter 
led up to the tennis-court quarrel, considering the whole 
of the circumstances, including age and personal relation- 
ships, Oxford's retort of "puppy" was possibly less out- 
rageous, and certainly more original than Sidney's verse 
had been. Sidney's uncle, Leicester, upon whose influence 
at court the young man (then twenty-four years old) largely 
depended, admits having to "bear a hand over him as a 
forw^ard young man," so that one less interested in him 
might be expected to express the same idea more em- 
phatically. The personal attack, it must be observed, had, 
in this Instance at any rate, come first from Sidney. As in 
other cases one gets the impression of Oxford not being a 


man given to initiating quarrels, but capable of being roused, 
and when attacked, striking back with unmistakable vigour. 

The story of the tennis-court quarrel is one of the few 
particulars about Oxford that have become current. In- 
deed, one very interesting history of English literature men- 
tions the incident, and ignores the fact that the earl was 
at all concerned with literature. Now, considering the 
prominence given to this story, it almost appears as if 
"Shakespeare," in "Hamlet," had intended to furnish a clue 
to his identity w^hen he represents Polonius dragging in a 
reference to young men "falling out at tennis." 

If our identification of Oxford and Harvey with 
Berowne and Holofernes be accepted, an interesting point 
for future investigation will be the identifica- 
affectatfon. *^^^ ^^ Other contemporaries with other 
characters in the play; and in view of Ox- 
ford's relationship with Sidney we shall probably be 
justified in regarding Boyet as a satirized representation of 
Philip Sidney; not, of course, the Philip Sidney that tradi- 
tion has preserved, but Sidney as Oxford saw him. For, 
compared with the genius of Shakespeare, no competent 
judge would hesitate to pronounce Sidney a mediocrity. If 
to this we add Dean Church's admission that "Sidney was 
not without his full share of that affectation which was then 
thought refinement," it is not difficult to connect him with 
Boyet, the ladies' man, whom Berowne satirizes in Act V, 
Scene 2 : 

"Why this is he 
That kiss'd away his hand in courtesy; 
This is the ape of form, monsieur the nice, 
That, when he plays at tables, chides the dice 
In honourable terms; nay, he can sing 
A mean most meanly; and, in ushering, 
Mend him who can: the ladies call him sweet. 
The stairs as he treads on them kiss his feet. 
This is the flower that smiles on every one, 
To show his teeth as white as whale's bone; 
And consciences that will not die in debt, 
Pay him the due of honey-tongued Boyet." 


The last two lines are somewhat puzzling apart from 
any special application. Applied to Sidney, however, they 
become vei7 pointed from the fact that he ^^^^^ ^^ 
died so deeply in debt as to delay his pubhc ^^^^8. 
funeral; his creditors being unwilling to ac- 
cept the arrangements proposed to them. The difficulties 
were only overcome by his father-in-law Walsingham, who 
had a special political interest in the public funeral, ad- 
vancing £6,000. 

When, moreover, we find Sidney presenting at a 
pastoral show at Wilton a dialogue, which is obvious 
plagiarism from Spenser and De Vere, we 

r t> , T^ • r T> 4. ' Sidney s 

can understand Berowne saymg or r>oyet, m plagiarism, 
the lines immediately preceding those quoted: 

"This fellow pecks up wit as pigeons pease, 
And utters it again when God doth please." 

We give a sentence or two by way of illustration: 

Spenser {Shepherd's Calender— August) . 

Will: Be thy bagpipes run far out of frame? 

Or lovest thou, or be thy younglings miswent? 

Sidney (Dialogue between tzvo shepherds). 

Will: What? Is thy bagpipe broke or are thy lambs miswent? 

De Vere {Dialogue on Desire) : 

What fruits have lovers for their pains? 
Their ladies, if they true remain, 
A good reward for true desire. 
What was thy meat and daily food? 
What hadst thou then to drink? 
Unfeigned lover's tears. 

Sidney {Shepherd's Dialogue): 

What wages mayest thou have? 

Her heavenly looks which more and more 

Do give me cause to crave. 

What food is that she gives? 

Tear's drink, sorrow's meat. 

Sidney's whole poem is, in fact, little more than the 
dishing-up of ideas and expressions from the two poems. 


If, In addition to this, the reader will turn back to the stanza 
of De Vere's beginning "I am not as I seem to be," noticing 
especially the reference in it to Hannibal, he will be able 
to detect more "pigeon's pease" in the following verse of 

"As for my mirth, how could I be but glad, 
Whilst that methought I justly made my boast 
That only I the only mistress had? 
But now, if e'er my face with joy be clad 
Think Hannibal did laugh when Carthage lost." 

A certain degree of rivalry between artists, in any de- 
partment of art, may be quite consistent with mutual respect. 
But when one happens to be "a forward young man" guilty 
of petty pilfering from his rival, one can understand the 
rival's point of view when he protests : — 

"He is wit's pedlar, and retails his wares 
At wakes and wassails, meetings, markets, fairs, 
And we that sell by gross, the Lord doth know 
Have not the grace to grace it with such show." 
(L. L. L. Act V, Scene 2.) 

The second line of this quotation is especially interest- 
ing in view of the occasion of Sidney's plagiarism mentioned 
above (The Wilton Show). In support of our contention 
that plagiarism was characteristic of Sidney, we are able 
to offer the testimony of Sir Sidney Lee, who remarks that 
"Petrarch, Ronsard and Desportes inspired the majority 
of Sidney's efforts, and his addresses to abstractions like 
sleep, the moon, his muse, grief or lust are almost verbatim 
translations from the French." Altogether, it is evident 
that Oxford was not without some justification for the use 
of the one word of his, "the comparison and wounding 
flout," which has passed into literary history. It would al- 
most appear as though "Love's Labour's Lost" contained 
a direct allusion to the Incident. For, after a passage of 
arms between Berowne and Boyet we have the following: — 



The last is Berowne, the merry mad-cap lord, 
Not a word with him but a jest. 


And every jest but a word. 


It was well done of you to take him at his word. 

Before leaving this question of "Boyet" we wish to 
offer an interesting observation upon the name itself. We 
have been unable to discover any other use 
of the word. If, however, we replace "Boy" Knyvet. 
by its old equivalent "Knave" we get the 
name of one who was possibly the most pronounced foe 
of Edward de Vere, namely Sir Thomas Knyvet; the word 
is variously spelt, like most names in those days, but the 
etymological connection is obvious. The feud between the 
two men and their retainers was of the same bitter and per- 
sistent character that we have represented in "Romeo and 
Juliet" between the Montagues and the Capulets. Fight- 
ing took place between them in the open streets and lives 
were lost. A duel was fought between Oxford and Sir 
Thomas Knyvet and both were wounded: Oxford seriously. 
It is possible, therefore, that quite in keeping with dramatic 
and poetic work of the type of "Love's Labour's Lost," 
Boyet is a composite character formed from Oxford's out- 
standing antagonists, Sir Philip Sidney and Sir Thomas 

We have been trying to show that the plays of Shake- 
speare contain possible pen portraits of men with whom 
the Earl of Oxford had dealings, representing them, not 
as tradition has preserved them, but as they stood in rela- 
tion to Oxford himself. It is no necessary part of our 
argument that these identifications should be fully accepted. 
They bear rather on a branch of Shakespearean study that 
must receive a special development once our main thesis is 
adopted. Meanwhile they assist in the work of giving to 


the plays those touches of personahty which up to the 

present have been lacking, and which, in the mass, must go 

far to support or break down any attempt at identifying 

the author. 

It was during the period of Oxford's life with which 

we are now dealing that he appears to have made for him- 

^ , . self a reputation for eccentricity. Such eccen- 

Eccentncity. . . " . . , , r t- 

tricity may nave been partly natural. His 

reputation in this particular would, however, most certainly 
receive considerable addition from the mode of life he 
adopted as the necessary means of fulfilling his vocation. 
It is possible, too, that finding it served as a mask to have 
his way of living attributed to eccentricity, and that it. 
protected him against annoyance and interference, he 
worked the matter systematically, as Hamlet did. The 
eccentricity and levity which he evidently showed in certain 
court circles, including doubtless the members of the Bur- 
leigh faction, was probably not only a disguise, but also 
an expression of contempt for those towards w^hom he 
adopted the manner. In those literary and dramatic rela- 
tionships which mattered most to him his bearing was evi- 
dently of a different kind, for there he is spoken of as "a 
most noble and learned gentleman." It is possible, too, 
that he may not have succeeded altogether in throwing dust 
in the eyes of Burleigh; for we find the latter admitting that 
"his lordship hath more capacity than a stranger to him 
might think." 

This dual attitude towards others is more than once 
illustrated In the works of Shakespeare. The most promi- 
Duality " "^"^ illustration is, of course, that of Hamlet, 

in "Shake- We find something, too, of this double per- 

sonality in the character of the "mad-cap 
Lord Berowne" and we have It exactly described in the case 
of Brutus in "Lucrece" : 

"He with the Romans was esteemed so, 
As silly-jeering idiots are with kings, 
For sportive words and uttering foolish things. 


But now he throws that shallow habit by, 
Wherehi deep policy did him disguise; 
And arm'd his long hid wits advisedly." 

The same note appears again in his presentation of 
Prince Hal, or Henry V, whose 


Were but the outside of the Roman Brutus 
Covering discretion with a coat of folly" (II, 4) 

and who "obscured his contemplation under the veil of 

In the case of Edgar in "King Lear" we have the most 
pronounced development of the idea. Here we have the 
carrying out of a definite purpose by means of a simulation 
of complete madness; a purpose which 

"taught him to shift 
Into a madman's rags, to assume a semblance 
That very dogs disdained." 

The conception was evidently quite a dominant one in the 
mind of the dramatist, and that it was characteristic of 
himself, whoever he may have been, is made quite clear in 
the oft quoted passage in the Sonnets: 

"Alas 'tis true I have gone here and there 
And made myself a motley to the view, 
Gored mine own thoughts, sold cheap what is most dear." 

There is nothing suggestive of enigma in these Hnes, 
and therefore only their obvious meaning should be at- 
tached to them. "Shakespeare," as the great leader of true 
realism — quite a different thing from the modern enormity 
which calls itself by that name — is entitled to be read 
literally when he speaks directly and seriously of himself; 
and therefore, when he tells us, in so many words, that he 
had acted the mountebank in some form, we may take it 
that he had actually done so. To think of him as a man who 
"brought to the practical affairs of life a wonderfully sane 


and sober judgment," meaning thereby that he was a practi- 
cal steady-headed man of business with a keen eye for the 
"main chance," is to place his personality in direct contra- 
diction to all that the sonnets reveal of him. Let any one 
read these sonnets so full of personal pain, then turn to 
"Love's Labour's Lost," much of which was evidently be- 
ing penned at the very time when many of the sonnets were 
being written, and he will feel that he is in the presence of 
an extraordinary personality, capable of great extremes in 
thought and conduct, the very antithesis of the model citizen 
that "Shakespeare" is supposed to have been. 
How suggestive is all this of De Vere's lines : 

1. "I most in mirth most pensive sad." 

2. "Thus contraries be used, I find, 

Of wise, to cloak the covert mind." 

3. "So I the pleasant grape have pulled from the vine, 

And yet I languish in great thirst while others drink the 

Every word of these sentences reveals a man hiding the 
soreness of his own nature under a mask of levity whilst 
adding to the w^orld's store of joy and merriment. 

We feel justified in assuming, therefore, that the im- 
pression of himself which he set up in official circles was 
largely such as he intended to establish, and that not the 
least part of the satisfaction he derived from his success 
In the matter was in the thought of fooling Burleigh and 
others about the court. It hardly needs pointing out how 
true all this is of Hamlet, and how Hamlet's attitude to- 
wards Polonius, Rosencrantz, Guilderstern and the other 
courtiers might be taken as a developed and idealized rep- 
resentation of Oxford's dealings with men like Burleigh, 
Raleigh, Greville and Hatton. 

„„, , „ As a last remark upon this point we would 

in his draw attention to the fact that in his work 

characters. uj^^ ^^^ Shakespeare" Mr. Frank Harris 

rejects entirely the idea that Shakespeare cannot be identi- 


fied with any of his characters; and, though approaching 
the question from a totally different standpoint and with 
other purposes, selects amongst the most outstanding 
examples of self-representation several of the cases we have 
just cited. From this work we quote the following pas- 
sages : — 

"In Hamlet Shakespeare has discovered too much of 
himself." He makes "Brutus an idealized portrait of him- 
self." "Edgar is peculiarly Shakespeare's mouthpiece." "It 
can hardly be denied that Shakespeare identified himself as 
far as he could with Henry V." 

In every one of these cases, as has already been re- 
marked, we have men hiding a superior nature under a veil 
of folly. There is probably an element of confusion be- 
tween the two men named "Brutus," appearing with an 
interval of five hundred years in "Lucrece" and "Julius 
Caesar" respectively. But Shakespeare's linking of Prince 
Hal with the Brutus who pretended to be Insane and swore 
to avenge the death of Lucrece furnishes all the connection 

It is not our purpose to attempt to refute his reputed 
dissoluteness during those years of active association with 
dramatic companies. It has already been re- 
marked, however, that, had his conduct been scanda/*" 
quite Irreproachable in other respects, the 
absenting of himself from his normal social and domestic 
circles, which was partly a necessary condition of the enter- 
prise he had In hand, and the known character of those with 
whom he had to associate, so frankly stated in the passage 
we have quoted from Dean Church, would have afforded 
ample foundations on which antagonists might build for 
him such a reputation. When we consider further the spe- 
cial character of Burleigh, so aptly described In the passage 
we have quoted from Spenser's "Mother Hubbard's Tale," 
we may rest assured that the most would be made of these 
things to Oxford's discredit. Whatever his private charac- 
ter may have been, a reputation for dissoluteness was al- 


most inevitable under the circumstances. It will be per- 
fectly safe to say, therefore, that he was no worse, but 
probably very much better, than he has been portrayed. On 
the other hand, as the Shakespeare sonnets themselves 
clearly admit departures from recognized canons of recti- 
tude, on the part of their writer, we are not concerned here 
to claim for De Vere a higher moral elevation than belongs 
to Shakespeare. At the same time, if we regard these 
sonnets as the product of Oxford's pen, we shall be able to 
clear his reputation of much of the slander that has hitherto 
been in undisputed possession. 


Our chief concern at this stage is with his dramatic 
activities. How soon after his return from Italy these were 
begun we cannot say; but the fact that he ap- 
acttvittes! pears almost immediately to have adopted the 

practice of absenting himself from domestic 
and court life, and of sharing the Bohemian life of literary 
men and play-actors, suggests that he was not long in be- 
ginning his dramatic apprenticeship. Then, from this time 
up to about the year 1590, which we take as marking in a 
general way the beginning of the Shakespearean output, his 
life was largely of this Bohemian and dramatic character. 
Future research will probably furnish fuller details and 
dates of Edward de Vere's connection with the stage; suffi- 
cient has, however, already been established to show that by 
the year 1580 he was already deeply committed. 

From the Calendar of State Papers we learn that in 
1580 the heads of the Cambridge University wrote to Bur- 
leigh objecting to the Earl of Oxford's servants "showing 
their cunning" in certain plays which they had already per- 
formed before the Queen. By 1584 he had a company of 
players touring regularly In the provinces, and from this 
year until 1587 his company was established in London, 
occupying a foremost place in the dramatic world. 


In connection with his tours in the provinces it is worth 
while remarking that in 1584, that is to say just before 
settUng in London, his company paid a visit to Stratford- 
on-Avon. WiUiam Shakspere was by this time twenty years 
of age and had been married for two years. There has 
been a great deal of guessing respecting the date at which 
WiUiam Shakspere left Stratford-on-Avon, and it is not im- 
probable that it may have been connected with the visit of 
the "Oxford Boys." As it is the birth of twins, early in 
1585, which furnishes the data from which the time of his 
leaving Stratford has been inferred, the latter half of 1584 
may indeed have been the actual time. 

However these things may be, the fact is that, whether 
in the country or the metropolis, it appears to have been 
quite recognized that the Earl of Oxford had 
a hand in the composition of some of the plays dramatis^t^ 
that his company was staging, whilst others 
were substantially his own. 

The year 1580, which gives us the earliest evidence of 

his being directly implicated in dramatic work, connects 

him also with a writer of poetry and drama, 

. 1 • 1 Anthony 

and the manager of a theatrical company, Munday. 

called Anthony Munday; and as this connec- 
tion is of a most important and interesting character it 
must be treated at some length. 

One peculiar fact about Munday has been the attributing 
to him both of dramatic and poetic compositions of a 
superior order, which competent authorities now assert 
could not have been written by him. In order to establish 
this point we must first deal with matters which take us 
past the period of time with which we are now dealing. In 
the year 1600 there was published an important poetical 
anthology called "England's Helicon," containing, amongst 
others, the poems of "Shepherd Tony," whose identity has 
been one of the much-discussed problems of Elizabethan 
literature. Some writers have inclined to the idea that 
Anthony Munday was "Shepherd Tony" ; and in a modern 


anthology one of the best of the poems of Shepherd Tony, 
"Beauty sat bathing by a spring," is ascribed to Anthony 
Munday: as if no doubt existed on the point. Now Mun- 
day has, as a matter of fact, pubhshed a volume of his own 
poetry, "A Banquet of Dainty Conceits"; and of this the 
modern editor of "England's Helicon," Mr. A. H. Bullen 
(1887), says: 

"Intrinsically the poems have little interest; but the col- 
lection is on that account important, as affording excellent 
proof that Anthony Munday was not the Shepherd Tony 
of 'England's Helicon.' Munday was an inferior writer." 

He then gives a passages of ten lines from Munday's 
poems and adds: "Very thin gruel this, and there are eight 
more stanzas. After reading these 'Dainty Conceits' I 
shall stubbornly refuse to believe that Munday could have 
written any of the poems attributed in 'England's Helicon' 
to the Shepherd Tony." 

We now revert to the period proper to this chapter, 
the years approaching 1580, in which De Vere was serving, 
Munda ^^ ^^ were, the first term of his dramatic ap- 

credited with prenticeship, and we ask for a very careful at- 
tention to the following passages taken from 
the Cambridge History of English Literature, vol. 5, chap- 
ter 10: 

"Anthony Munday ... a hewer and trimmer of 

"Of the lesser Elizabethan dramatists Munday is the 
most considerable, interesting and typical." 

"These plays of Munday (have) no genius in them." 

"A translation from the Italian may be given as the 
beginning of Munday's work. (It is) a comedy of Two 
Italian Gentlemen . . . Victoria's song at her window and 
Fedele's answer are of real poetic charm, and Fedele's 
denunciation of woman's fickleness is exactly in the strain 


as it is in the metre of the rhyming rhetoric of 'Love's 
Labour's Lost.' . . . Rhyming alexandrines and fourteen 
syllabled lines are generally employed, but in Fedele's 
speech, special seriousness and dignity of style are attained 
by the use of rhyming ten-syllabled lines in stanzas of six 
lines (The 'Venus' and De Vere's 'Of Women' stanza) 
. . . What is unexpected is the idiomatic English of the 
translation; (for Munday's) prose translations do not dis- 
play any special power in transforming the original into 
native English. . . . 

"Munday in 1580 and in his earliest published works is 
anxious to proclaim himself ^servant of the Earl of Oxford' 
. . . The Earl of Oxford's company of play- 
ers acted in London between 1584 and 1587. Oxford" ^^'^ 
. . . (In a certain play) 'as it hath been 
sundry times played by the right honourable Earle of Oxen- 
ford, the Lord Great Chamberlaine of England, his ser- 
vant,' the six-lined stanza occurs. (Much of it) might be 
Munday's work (but, he cannot have written the sonorous 

blank verse of the historic scenes . . . (One 

. . .. . Munday and 

or) Munday s plays is a humble variation or "Shake- 

the dramatic type of 'A Midsummer Night's ^peare." 

Dream' . . . And we find in (another of Munday's plays) 

phrases that may have rested in the mind of Shakespeare J' 

We feel entitled to say that the writer of these passages, 
the Rev. Ronald Bayne, M.A., was simply trembling on 
the brink of the discovery we claim to have made. The 
sentences quoted are not to be found in the close proximity 
to one another in which we have here placed them. They 
do, however, occur in the same chapter of the same work 
and are all from the same pen. A careful examination of 
the passages in these plays of Munday's, which "could not 
have been written by him," and containing passages which 
might have "rested in the mind of Shakespeare," would be 
necessary to make the present statement complete. They 
will need to be compared with Shakespeare's work on the 


one hand, and with the De Vere work on the other. For 
the present we are content to let it rest upon the authority 
quoted, and ask the reader to observe the number and the 
important character of the connecting links which Anthony 
Munday thus estabHshes for us between Shakespeare and 
Edward de Vere. For, if the passages in question fulfil the 
description given by Mr. Bayne, there seems but one ex- 
planation possible, in view of the whole course our investi- 
gations have so far taken, and that is that prior to 1580 
the Earl of Oxford was learning his business as dramatist, 
trying his prentice hand, so to speak, upon inferior plays 
then current, collaborating with inferior writers, interpolat- 
ing passages of his own into plays produced by his employee 
Anthony Munday — such passages as "might have rested 
in the mind of Shakespeare." 

As we are given one example of verse that appears in 
a play of Munday's, we shall reproduce it, 

Munday, 1*1 t /• t% 

Oxford and along With correspondmg passages from De 

"Shake- Vere and Shakespeare, notwithstanding: the 

speare. . . . . , ^ 

repetition it involves: 

1. Munday's play: 

"Lo! here the common fault of love, to follow her that flies, 
And fly from her that makes pursuit with loud lamenting cries. 
Fedele loves Victoria, and she hath him forgot; 
Virginia likes Fedele best, and he regards her not." 

2. De Vcrc's poems: 

"The more I followed one, the more she fled away. 
As Daphne did full long ago, Apollo's wishful prey. 
The more my plaints I do resound the less she pities me. 
The more I sought the less I found, yet mine she meant to be." 

i\s the verse in Munday's play exactly reproduces the 
situation of the lovers in "A Midsummer Night's Dream," 
we quote the lines of the latter play dealing with the 
situation : 

3. Shakespeare, "M.N.D." I. i (Dialogue) : 

"I frown upon him, yet he loves me still. 
O! that your frowns would teach my smiles such skill. 


I give him curses, yet he gives me love. 
O! that my prayers could such affection move. 
The more I hate the m.ore he follows me. 
The more I love the more he hateth me." 

We are content to leave these matters to the reflection 
of the reader; and, as a last reference to Anthony Munday, 
merely point out the interesting fact that the recently dis- 
covered manuscript, which forms the subject of Sir E. 
Maunde Thompson's work on the penmanship of William 
Shakspere, is an interpolation into a play by Anthony Mun- 


It would be of Inestimable value if some of Oxford's 
manuscripts or even the titles of his plays could be dis- 
covered. We should not, of course, expect . 

' ' ^ Agamemnon 

to find an exact correspondence between these and 
titles and those of the Shakespeare plays: but 
rather something furnishing connecting clues. Up to the 
present we have been able to discover only one such title, 
and the result has been by no means disappointing. In Mrs. 
Stopes's work on "Burbage and Shakespeare's Stage" we 
find the following from a contemporary record (1584). 

"The History of Agamemnon and Ullsses presented 
and enacted before her maiestle by the Earle of Oxenford 
his boyes on St. John's dale at night at Greenwich." 

There is, of course, no Shakespeare play entitled 
"Agamemnon and Ulysses" ; but a careful examination of 
Shakespeare's play, "Troilus and Cressida," 
from this point of view will, we think, yield cress^da.^" 
very interesting results. Without actually 
counting words, we would be inclined to say, on a gen- 
eral inspection, that the speeches of Agamemnon and 
Ulysses account for as large, or maybe a larger, part of the 
drama, than do the words actually spoken by Troilus and 


Cressida themselves. This, however, is not the most inter- 
esting part of the case. Take the first act, for example, and 
compare carefully the three scenes of which it is composed. 
The first two scenes will be found to contain a large pro- 
portion of short sentences representing free and rapid 
dialogue, and also a fair admixture of prose. In this we 
have the work of the skilled playwriter. Scene three is 
totally different. Here each speaker steps forward in turn 
and utters a lengthy oration all in blank verse; prose being 
entirely absent. There is in it profound thought and skilful 
expression; but it is for the most part poetry pure and 
simple rather than drama : intellect and poetic skill, but not 
the proper technique of dialogue. 

This marked difference in point of technique betw^een the 
third scene and the first two scenes is just the difference be- 
tween the work of a poet making his early 
drama?^" ° essays in drama and the work of the practised 
dramatist. And this apparently early Shake- 
speare drama is what might fittingly be called part of a play 
of "Agamemnon and Ulysses." Agamemnon, as the king, 
holds precedence and leads off with his thirty lines of blank 
verse, and Ulysses has by far the lion share of orating 
throughout the scene. A careful study of the two kinds of 
work in "Troilus and Cressida" will perhaps bring home 
to the reader more clearly than anything else could a sense 
of what took place in the development of drama in Queen 
Elizabeth's reign. What we take to be the Earl of Ox- 
ford's play of "Agamemnon and Ulysses," forming the 
original ground-work for the "Shakespeare" play of "Troi- 
lus and Cressida," represents the Elizabethan drama in an 
early simple stage of its evolution, with few speakers and 
long speeches, and the finished play of "Troilus and Cres- 
sida" the work of the same pen when practice had matured 
his command over the resources of true dramatic dialogue 
and a multitude of dramatis personae. In the Agamemnon 
and Ulysses scene, i^neas is introduced to establish a link 
with the Troilus and Cressida romance; and then for the 


first time the succession of long speeches is interrupted: and 
a little rapid dialogue takes place. 

An examination of the play as a whole affords a very 
strong presumption that Shakespeare's play of "Troilus and 
Cressida" had for its foundation an earlier play of simple 
structure to which the name of "Agamemnon and Ulysses" 
might very fittingly be applied. 

We would now ask for a careful reading of the whole 

of those speeches of Ulysses in Act i, scene 3, j^^ 

of which we shall give but one short excerpt : aristocratic 


"C! when degree is staked, 
Which is the ladder to all high designs, 
The enterprise is sick. How could communities. 
Degrees in schools, and brotherhoods in cities, 
Peaceful commerce from dividable shores, 
The priuiogcnitivc and due of birth, 
Prerogative of age, crowns, sceptres, laurels 
But by degree, stand in authentic place? 
• • • • 

Great Agamemnon, 
This chaos when degree is suffocate. 
Follows the choking." 

The scene as a whole is a discussion of state policy, from 
the standpoint of one strongly imbued with aristocratic con- 
ceptions, and conscious of the decline of the feudal order 
upon which social life had hitherto rested. Make, then, 
the Earl of Oxford the writer, and Elizabeth's court the 
audience for "Shakespeare's" representation of "Agamem- 
non and Ulysses," and the whole situation becomes much 
more intelligible than if we try to make the Stratford man 
the writer. 

As illustrating the correspondence of the mind of Ox- 
ford, under other aspects, with the mind at work in "Troi- 
lus and Cressida," we shall first of all recall 

, .11 u\^7i Dymg lovers, 

two stanzas m the poem entitled, Wnat cun- 
ning can express?" 


" Each throws a dart 

That kindle th soft sweet fire: 
Within my sighing heart 

Possessed by Desire. 

No sweeter life I try 
Than in her love to die." 
■ ••••• 

"This pleasant lily white, 

This taint of roseate red; 
This Cynthia's silver light, 

This sweet fair Dea spread; 
These sunbeams in mine eye. 
These beauties nmke me die." 

The very extravagance of the terms arrests attention and al- 
most provokes criticism. We would therefore draw atten- 
tion to the following expression of sentiment on the part of 
Troilus whilst awaiting the entry of Cressida : 

"I am giddy; expectation whirls me round. 
The imaginary relish is so sweet 
That it enchants my soise: what will it be 
When that the watery palate tastes indeed 
Love's thrice repured nectar? death, I fear me 
Swooning destruction, or some joy too Hue, 
Too subtle-potent, tuned too sharp in sweetness, 
For the capacity of my ruder powers." (III. 2.) 

The previous speech of Troiius's in which occurs the 


"Where I may wallow in the lily-beds" 

reveals the working of the same imagery as in Oxford's 
poem; and the song in the immediately preceding scene, con- 
taining the couplet: 

"These lovers cry, 
Oh! oh! they die," 

shows the insistence of the central thought in a lighter vein. 

A few lines further on appears that dominant note of 

high birth, followed immediately by the expression: "Few 

words to fair faith," which almost reproduces an expression 


in a letter of Oxford's written at a later date and only pub- 
lished in modern times: "Words in faithful mmds are te- 
dious." , , . , 
We have by no means exhausted the connection ot 

"Troilus and Cressida" with the plays, poems and life of 
Edward de Vere, the starting point for which is furnished 
by the "Agamemnon and Ulysses" play. Enough has been 
said, however, to establish a harmony and to add to the 
sum of these accordances which in their mass and conver- 
gence constitute the proof of our theory. 


Mention has been made of his association with and pa- 
tronage of men of letters. One such instance of literary 
patronage carries us to the next landmark in ^^^^ ^^^ ^^^ 
tracing out his dramatic activities. The ob- Oxford Boys, 
iect of De Vere's benevolence in this case was 
Lyly, who dedicated the second part of his celebrated work 
to his patron. Shakespeare's intimacy with Euphuism is 
one of the much debated points in connection with the au- 
thorship problem, the difficulties of which disappear almost 
automatically under our present theory. Mr. W. Creizen- 
ach, in "English Drama in the age of Elizabeth, speaking 
of Lyly and his struggles against poverty, says, "He found 
more effective patronage at the hands of the Earl of Ux- 
ford, who himself practised the dramatic art. By him Lyly 
was entrusted with the management of the troupe known 
as the 'Oxford Boys,' which was under his protection. It 
is probable that the players who had named their company 
after this nobleman publicly acted the plays written by their 


In the same work occurs also the following passage : 
"Side by side with the poets who earned their living by com- 
posing dramas we may observe a few members of the higher 
aristocracy engaged in the task of writing plays for the 


popular stage, just as they tried their hands at other forms 
of poetry for the pure love of writing. But the number of 
these high-born authors is very small and their appearance 
is evanescent. Edward Earl of Oxford, known chiefly as 
a lyric poet, is mentioned in Puttenham's 'Art of English 
Poesie' as having earned, along with Edwards the choir- 
master, the highest commmendation for comedy and inter- 
lude. Meres also praises him as being one of the best 
poets for comedy." 

The contemporary testimony to his dramatic pre-emi- 
nence mentioned in the passage quoted is of first impor- 
tance, for, although we have fixed upon his lyric work as the 
key to the solution of the problem, it is his position as a 
writer of drama with which we are most directly con- 

Slight, then, as are the traces of his literary and dra- 
matic activity during the fourteen years following his visit 

to Italy, they are of such a character as to 
Boys." ^ prove that the greater part of the energy 

which he had sought at one time to devote to 
military or naval enterprises was largely directed to litera- 
ture and the drama, and that he must have been expending 
his substance lavishly upon these interests. His position 
amongst the aristocratic patrons of drama was evidently 
quite distinctive. We do not find that any of the others 
were literary men of the same calibre, that they were asso- 
ciated so directly with the plays that were being staged by 
their companies, or that they shared in an equal degree 
the Bohemian life of the players as did the Earl of Oxford. 
Nor are any of the others singled out for the same kind 
of special notice in modern works on the Elizabethan 
drama. Although other companies of actors are referred 
to as "Boys," it is to Oxford's company that the name seems 
to have been most particularly attached. This frequent 
reference to his company as "The Oxford Boys" is sug^ges- 
tive, too, of a personal familiarity, and the kindly interest 
of an employer in the needs and welfare of the men he 


employed. From every Indication we have of his charac- 
ter he was not the man to keep his gold "continually im- 
prisoned in his bags," to use his own phrase, whilst there 
were playwrights or actors about him whom he could bene- 
fit. Everything betokens a relationship similar to that 
which had existed between Hamlet and his players, and 
which he expresses in his welcome to them on renewing his 
intercourse with them : 

"You are welcome, masters; welcome all. I am glad to see thee 
well. Welcome good friends. O! my old friend." 

Then there is Hamlet's admonition to Polonius : 

"Good my lord, will you see the players well bestowed? Do you 
hear, let them be well used . . . Use them after your own honour 
and dignity: the less they deserve the more merit is in your bounty." 

Seeing, moreover, that Oxford's company has passed 

into the history of English drama as the "Oxford Boys," 

what shall we make of Hamlet speaking of his company as 

"the boys"? 

"Do the boys carry it away?" 

More important, however, are the instructions and criti- 
cism which Hamlet as a patron of playactors offers to his 
company. His whole attitude is just such as a patron of 
Oxford's social position, literary taste, and dramatic en- 
thusiasm would naturally assume towards a company which 
he was not only patronising but directing. In this matter 
no quotation of passages would suffice for our purpose. We 
can only ask the reader, bearing in mind all we have been 
able to lay before him, of Oxford's poetic work, life and 
character, to read through the whole of that part of the 
play which treats of Hamlet's dealing with the players (Acts 
II. and III. s. 2). If he does not feel that we have here 
an exact representation of what Oxford's handling of his 
own company would be, our own work in these pages must 
have been most imperfectly performed. 

As the management of the Oxford Boys was entrusted 


to Lyly, it will be seen that the writer in most continuous 
association with the Earl of Oxford during 
"^ake- " those years in which he was producing the 
speareV plays that are supposed to have perished, was 

the author of "Euphues." Now, it was precisely 
in this period that Lyly was himself giving forth plays; so 
that some kind of correspondence between his own work 
and his master's was inevitable. It becomes, then, a ques- 
tion of some importance, whether these plays of Lyly's 
link themselves on in any distinctive way with the plays of 
"Shakespeare." We invite, therefore, some special atten- 
tion first of all to what Sir Sidney Lee has to say on this 

"It was only to two of his (Shakespeare's) fellow dram- 
atists that his indebtedness as a writer of either comedy 
or tragedy was material or emphatically defined" (Lyly 
and Marlowe). 

Marlowe was a younger man, and the work from his 
pen (tragedy) which Sir Sidney Lee associates with Shake- 
speare's belongs to the later or "Shakespearean" period 
proper. Lyly is therefore the only dramatist of this earlier 
or preparatory period (1580-1592) whose work, in the 
opinion of Sir Sidney Lee, foreshadows the work of "Shake- 

"Between 1580 and 1592 he (Lyly) produced eight 
trivial and insubstantial comedies, of which six were writ- 
ten in prose, one was in blank verse, and one in rhyme. 
Much of the dialogue in Shakespeare's comedies from 
'Love's Labour's Lost' to 'Much Ado about Nothing' con- 
sists in thrusting and parrying fantastic conceits, puns and 
antitheses. This is the style of the intercourse in which 
most of Lyly's characters exclusively indulge. Three- 
fourths of Lyly's comedies lightly revolve about topics of 
classical and fairy mythology — in the very manner which 
Shakespeare first brought to a triumphant issue in his 'Mid- 
summer Night's Dream.' Shakespeare's treatment of ec- 
centric characters like Don Armado in 'Love's Labour's 

Manhood of de vere: middle period 269 

Lost,' and his boy Moth reads like a reminiscence of Lyly's 
portrayal of Sir Topas, a fat, vainglorious knight, and his 
boy Epiton in the comedy of 'Endymion,' while the watch- 
men in the same play clearly adumbrate Shakespeare's Dog- 
berry and Verges. The device of masculine disguise for 
love-sick maidens was characteristic of Lyly's method be- 
fore Shakespeare ventured on it for the first of many times 
in 'Two Gentlemen of Verona,' and the dis- 

^ .u u T 1 ' J- r ^ Lylys lyncs. 

persal through Lyly s comedies of songs pos- 
sessing every lyrical charm is not the least interesting of 
the many striking features which Shakespeare's achieve- 
ments in comedy seem to borrow from Lyly's comparatively 
insignificant experiments." 

In the article on Lyly which the same writer contributes 
to the Dictionary of National Biography he raises doubts as 
to Lyly's authorship of certain lyrics which appear In his 
dramas — on the grounds of their superiority. It cannot 
be questioned, then, that Lyly and his work constitute a 
most important link in the chain of evidence connecting the 
work of "Shakespeare" with the Earl of Oxford; only, un- 
der the Influence of the Stratfordlan theory, cause Is mis- 
taken for effect. 


Having presented the relationship of Lyly's work to 
that of "Shakespeare" as stated by an eminent Shakespear- 
ean, we shall now give It as it appears 
to the leading English authority on the in t^he'^Savoy. 
work of John Lyly, Mr. R. Warwick 
Bond, M.A. ("The Complete Works of John Lyly, now for 
the first time collected and edited." Clarendon Press, 
1902). This Is of such importance as to deserve a section 
for Itself. 

"Gabriel Harvey (states) that when 'Euphues' was be- 
ing written. I.e. In 1578, he knew Lyly In the Savoy. ... A 
recommendation from an Influential friend would procure 


easy admission (to apartments in the Savoy) for some tem- 
porary period at least, of a needy man of letters or uni- 
versity student. . . . From details given in Mr. W. J. Lof- 
tie's Memorials of the Savoy, it appears that various cham- 
bers and tenements in the Savoy precinct were customarily 
let to tenants, and in 1573 Edward de Vere, Earl of Ox- 
ford, is over £10 in arrear of rent to the Savoy for two 
such tenements." 

For what purpose Oxford held these tenements, whether 
for his own literary pursuits, or for the accommodation 
of poor men of letters, is not known. So early, however, 
^s 1573, when he was but twenty-three years of age, and 
two years before his Italian tour, he was evidently asso- 
ciated with the men of letters in the Savoy, amongst whom 
were included within the next f ew^ years, Gabriel Harvey and 
John Lyly. Burleigh's house in the Strand, where Oxford 
had been domiciled, was quite near to the Savoy, and Ox- 
ford's early and habitual association with this particular 
literary group hardly admits of doubt. 

In 1580 Lyly dedicates his work, "Euphues and his 

England," to his "very good lord and master, Edward de 

Vere Earl of Oxenforde" and (to re- 

dramari"^^^^ sume our quotation) "here we have the 

impulse from first authentic indication of Lyly's con- 
Oxford. . • 1 r> 1 • 1 ' -1 

nection with Burleigh s son-in-law, a con- 
nection which may have begun in the Savoy, where, 
as we saw, Oxford rented two tenements. . . . He 
was engaged as private secretary to the Earl and admitted 
to his confidence. The two men were much of an age (Ox- 
ford was. In point of fact, Lyly's senior by three and a half 
years — a considerable difference in early manhood) and had 
common elements of character and directions of taste. 
From the Earl probably it zvas that Lyly first received the 
dramatic impulse. None of Oxford's comedies survive, 
but Puttenham, writing In 1589, classes him with Richard 
Edwards as deserving the highest price (? praise) for 
comedy and interlude." . . . (Then follow some partic- 


ulars respecting the activities of ''Oxford's Boys") . . . 
''Suggestion, encouragement and apparatus thus lay ready to 
Lyly's hand." In another place, in describing Lyly's edu- 
cational advantages, he mentions specially that of being 
"private secretary to the literary Earl of Oxford." 

The work of Oxford in drama is therefore recognized 
as having furnished the generative impulse which pro- 
duced Lyly's work in this particular domain. As private 
secretary, in the confidence of Oxford, assisting in the actual 
staging of Oxford's comedies, which without appearing in 
print had made such a name that they are spoken of, more 
than ten years after they had ceased to appear on the stage, 
as amongst "the best,"* Lyly would naturally be more inti- 
mate with these "lost plays" than any other man except 
the author himself. And as it was the holding of this 
office which led him to the composition of dramas, we are 
quite entitled to say that it was the plays of Edward de 
Vere that furnished Lyly's dramatic education; whilst con- 
tact with his master is a recognized force in his personal 

As to the relationship of Lyly's dramas to the work of 
"Shakespeare," Mr. Bond quotes on his title the words of 
Mezieres: "Ceux qui ont ete les predecessors connection 
des grands esprits ont contribue en quelque ^^^. 
facon a leur education, leur doivent d'etre speareV 
sauves de I'oubli. Dante fait vivre dramas. 
Brunetto Latini, Milton du Bartas; Shakespeare fait vivre 
Lyly," This is the theme which runs through Mr. Bond's 
great work; the justification almost of his immense labours 
on behalf of Lyly and Elizabethan literature generally. 
The nature and value of his researches can only be gath- 
ered, however, from a study of the work itself, and there- 
fore we shall merely submit a few indicative sentences: — 

~"In comedy, Lyly is Shakespeare's only model: the evi- 
dence of the latter's study and imitation of him is abundant, 

* Meres, 1598. 


and Lyly's influence is of a far more permanent nature than 
any exercised on the great poet by any other writers. It 
extends beyond the boundaries of mechanical style to the 
more important matters of structure and spirit" (Vol. 11. 

P- 243)- 

^'Shakespeare Imitates Lyly's grouping and, like him, 

repeats a relation or situation in successive plays" (II. 285). 
"Lyly taught him (Shakespeare) something in the mat- 
ter of unity and coherence of plot-construction, in the in- 
troduction of songs and fairies" (II. 296). 

This, then, is the situation represented by the consensus 
of opinion of two eminent authorities. The dramas of Ed- 
ward de Vere form the source from which sprang Lyly's 
dramatic conceptions and enterprises, and Lyly's dramas 
appear as the chief model, in comedy the only model, 
upon which "Shakespeare" worked. We are therefore en- 
titled to claim that the highest orthodox authorities, in the 
particular department of literature with which we are deal- 
ing, support the view that the dramatic activities of Edward 
de Vere stands in almost immediate productive or causal 
relationship of a most distinctive character with the dra- 
matic work of "Shakespeare." Even if we are unable to 
extract any further evidence from Oxford's relationships 
with Lyly we shall have added another very important 
link in our chain of evidences. 

Take now the following passage from the work we have 
just been quoting: Lyly was "the first regular English dram- 
atist, the true inventor and introducer of 
apparent dramatic style, conduct and dialogue, and in 

inventive- these respects the chief master of Shake- 

ness. ^ 

speare. There Is no play before Lyly. He 

wrote eight; and immediately thereafter England produced 

some hundreds — produced that marvel and pride of the 

greatest literature in the world, the Elizabethan Drama. 

What the long infancy of her stage had lacked was an 

example of form, of art; and Lyly gave it. . . . Lyly was 

one whose immense merits and originality were obscured by 


the surface-qualities, the artificiality and tedium of his style 
. . . (There is) far more dramatic credit due and far more 
influence on Shakespeare attributable to him than to Mar- 
lowe or any other of those with whom he has been customa- 
rily classed" (Preface vi and vii). 

In the world of drama, then, Lyly appears as a great 
inventive genius, to whose originating impulse is due "the 
greatest literature in the world." Contrast t 1 » i 1. f 
now with the above passage the following inventive- 
comment upon Lyly's "Euphues," which ap- 
pears in the same work: 

"The book is artificial, divorced from homely realities. 
It is deficient, too, in characterization and in pathos; but 
undoubtedly its chief defect is its want of action. . . . The 
want of action is probably referrable to poverty of inven- 
tion. . . . Poverty of invention is discerned in the parallel- 
ism of the two parts" (Vol. I. 162). 

In the writing of his novel, then, Lyly shows a distinct 
lack of dramatic power, and a noticeable poverty of inven- 
tion.'' When he enters his employer's special domain, the 
drama, he appears as ^Uhe true inventor and introducer of 
dramatic style, conduct and dialogue." 

Only one conclusion, it would seem, can be drawn from 
these facts, namely that the real inventor of those things, 
which "Shakespeare" is supposed to have ^ , . .t. 

1 • r T 1 \ T^ \ c r\ Oxford the 

derived from Lyly, was the Earl of Ox- real 
ford. Whether we examine the lyric i""°^^tor. 
poems of the latter, the vicissitudes of his career, or 
the varied and disturbing impressions he left in the minds 
of others, with all the mystifying and conflicting personal 
traits that they suggest, we find ourselves in the presence 
of an original and self-dependent intellect; just the kind 
of mind to possess that dramatic inventiveness which is at- 
tributed to the plays but which is missing from the "Eu- 
phues" of Lyly. The inventiveness and dramatic form and 
dialogue in Lyly's plays is therefore evidently due to Ox- 
ford's participation either direct or indirect. The features 


of Lyly's work which relate it so intimately with "Shake- 
speare's" dramas are such as an apt disciple might have 
learnt from a master of forceful and original genius : in the 
intellectual substance of Lyly's dramas, as in his other 
literary work, his biographer and editor freely admits su- 
perficiality and tediousness. The conceptions, phrases, and 
dramatic form of the master's work could be appropriated 
by the pupil; its genius he could not appropriate or imi- 
tate. As then Lyly's work, apart from what he might 
have borrowed from Oxford, marks him as an early type 
of that literary mind which rapidly catches and reflects the 
ideas of others, it is almost certain that his works will con- 
tain not only much that was in Oxford's writings, but also 
a great deal of what Oxford thought and said without com- 
mitting it to writing. 

As a kind of unconscious Boswell to the Earl of Oxford 
it i*i more than probable that even his "Euphues " owes 
"Euphues" much to his intercourse with his patron; 

Oxford and for this work consists mainly of such 
"Shakespeare." ,, j n ^- £ t i ' 

talk and renections as a man or Lyly s 

type would gather together from the conversation of the 
group of young litterateurs in the Savoy. Scraps of ideas 
gleaned in this way, and dressed up in his own inflated style, 
might easily pass for a time as solid intellectual matter; 
the deficiency of genuine substance only being disclosed 
through familiarity. It is interesting to notice that Mr. 
Bond gives us no less than nine pages of parallelisms be- 
tw^een this early work of Lyly's and the plays of Shake- 
speare. The difference between the two is mainly that in 
"Euphues" the passages appear as more or less disjointed 
and rambling remarks, whereas in "Shakespeare" they take 
their places as parts of a coherent whole. In a word, in 
Lyly's work they indicate a mind that reflects the conceptions 
and imitates the expressions of others: in "Shakespeare" 
they are the expression of an originating intellect; and were 
it not for the difl^culty presented by the fact that Lyly's work 
was published some years before "Shakespeare's," no com- 


petent judge would have questioned Lyly's great indebted- 
ness to "Shakespeare" even in the writing of his famous 

It is no part of our argument, but It is of some Interest 
from the point of view of Ehzabethan Hterature, that as 
we get a glimpse of this group of young literary men drawn 
Into association In the Savoy, and realize something of 
what their relationships would tend to be at the time when 
"Euphues" was being written, one gets a suggestion that, 
in accordance with their literary methods, Edward de Vere 
and Philip Sidney were the chief originals for Lyly's prin- 
cipal characters of Euphues and Phllautus. For to the names 
of the men already given we are quite entitled to add those 
of both Edmund Spenser and Philip Sidney; since It was 
Gabriel Harvey under whose Influence Spenser had come to 
London about that time, and it was he, too, who introduced 
Spenser to Philip Sidney. Shortly afterwards Spenser 
brought out his first work "The Shepherd's Calendar," dedi- 
cated to Sidney, and containing allusions, as we believe, 
to both Oxford and Sidney. Later, as we have already seen, 
Spenser addressed an important dedicatory sonnet to 
Oxford in first publishing his "Falrle Queen." All 
the works we have just named are representations, 
in varying degrees of disguise, of contemporary life 
and personalities; and as the Earl of Oxford and Philip 
Sidney were the outstanding personalities connecting this 
group of litterateurs with the court life it was natural that 
Lyly's two chief characters should assume some of their 
features, even if he had not Intended the representation 
at first. Although Llarvey, Lyly, Oxford and Sidney all 
seem to have come to cross purposes within the next few 
years, there Is no reason to suppose that their relations were 
other than friendly at the time when Lyly was penning 

However these things may be, it is much more feasible 
that the great "Shakespeare" poems and dramas should 
have owed their rise to the interchange of Ideas, and the 


stimulation which mind derives from contact with kindred 
mind, such as would be enjoyed by the young wits and sa- 
vants in the Savoy, than to the studies of an isolated youth 
"Shake- poring over well-thumbed books in an uncon- 

speareV genial social atmosphere. And if this social 

dramas a . n i r i 

social mtercourse were really the source or the 

product. Shakespeare literature as we believe it to have 

been directly, and Sir Sidney Lee and Mr. Bond imply that 
it was indirectly, we should naturally expect to find, in some 
outstanding play, such a representation of the chief figures 
of the group as Spenser, Lyly and Gabriel Harvey were ac- 
customed to make of contemporaries in their own writings. 
"Love's Labour's Lost" is the play that we have selected 
in this connection, and dealt with in the opening pages of 
this chapter. That Lyly is also represented in the play is 
most probable; we know too little, however, of his person- 
ality for purposes of Identification. The fact that the au- 
thorship we are now urging brings "Shakespeare's" plays 
into line with the literature of the times, as a dramatic rep- 
resentation of contemporary events and personalities, and 
at the same time gives the works a firm root, like all the 
other great achievements of mankind, in the direct social 
Intercourse of men possessing common tastes and interests. 
Is not the least of the arguments In its favour. 

If Lyly's works were produced as we suppose them 
to have been; produced, that Is to say, by a somewhat or- 
dinary mind working upon Ideas and with ap- 
Lyl/s plays. paratus furnished by an almost transcendent 
genius, we should naturally expect to find 
marked discordances and Inequalities in his work, result- 
ing from the imperfect blending of the two elements. This 
Is just the feature that Lyly's work does present; and In 
the matter of the songs Interspersed through the plays, 
there is such a superiority to much of the other work as to 
have raised doubts respecting their authenticity. The first 
play written by Lyly was "Campaspe," published in 1584; 
and on more than one occasion, m speaking of later writ- 


ings, Mr. Bond contrasts them with the superior lyrics in 
his first play. Some work he describes as "a disgrace to 
the writer of 'Cupid and my Campaspe' " (one of these 
lyrics). Speaking again of a poetical lampoon by Lyly, 
entitled "A Whip for an Ape," he asserts that the "author- 
ship is not disputable," though the notion that the author 
of "Cupid and my Campaspe" also wrote "A Whip for an 
Ape" had induced him to regard the latter work as doubt- 

This is not, however, the most interesting or signifi- 
cant fact which the writer brings to light in respect to the 
songs in Lyly's plays. In the editions of these works pub- 
lished during the author's lifetime and the lifetime both of 
Edward de Vere and William Shakspere, the songs did 
not appear; their positions alone being merely indicated in 
the text. 

"The absence of the whole thirty-two (except two 
merged In the dialogue of 'The Woman') from the quarto 
editions (I.e. the originals) has cast some doubt upon Lyly's 
authorship: but some of them seem too dainty to he written 
by an unknown hand, there Is a uniformity of alternative 
manners and measures, etc." The writer then proceeds to 
offer possible reasons for the omission of the songs from 
the editions of the plays as first published. The Important 
fact Is that these songs are In several cases the best things 
the plays now contain. For nearly fifty years some of these 
works were published and republished without the songs 
("Campaspe" performed at court in 1582, and published 
first In 1584). Then, in 1632, that is to say twenty-six 
years after Lyly's death, twenty-one out of the misssing 
thirty unaccountably reappeared in an edition of Lyly's 
plays Issued by the same publishers and In the same year 
as the Second Folio edition of "Shakespeare's" work, and 
within the lifetime of Oxford's cousin, Horatio de Vere, 
who, as we shall have occasion to show, had probably been 
entrusted with the task of preserving and publishing Ox- 
ford's writings. The remaining nine are still missing. The 


simultaneous reappearance of so many of these songs, after 
so long an interval, would almost certainly be the work of 
some one who had been carefully preserving the entire set. 
The non-appearance of the remaining nine suggests that 
these had already appeared elsewhere, probably in the 
pages of "Shakespeare." 

The possible reasons advanced for the omission of all 
these lyrics from the original issue of the plays are such 
as might apply to the work of any other playwright; yet we 
can find no other instances of sets of superior lyrics being 
omitted from the original publication of the works to which 
they belong. The simplest hypothesis is that these lyrics 
were not the composition nor the property of Lyly, but, 
like the lyric work contributed to Munday's play, had been 
composed by the master of the playwright, the "best of the 
courtier poets" of those days: and although Oxford could 
not prevent Lyly's rushing into print with superficial plays, 
in which he saw his own developments in drama being pre- 
maturely exploited, he certainly would resent his own lyrics 
appearing in them, and was quite able to prevent it if Lyly 
had been disposed to insert them. 

Mr. Bond's statement respecting the quality of Lyly's 
own lyric work is therefore of special importance : "Spite 
■l^ j.j^ of his authorship of two or three of the most 

incapacity graceful songs our drama can boast — an 

^ ^' authorship which if still unsusceptible of posi- 

tive proof is equally so of disproof — some of those in his 
plays, and others pretty certainly his, which I have found 
elsewhere, stamp him as rtegligent, uncritical^ or else inade- 
quately practised in the art; while he lacked altogether, in 
my judgment, 'those brave translunary things' so infinitely 
beyond technique, so far above mere grace or daintiness or 
fancy, of which the true poet is made" (Preface vii). The 
mere raising of the question of the authenticity of these first- 
class lyrics in this way, by one who adds to his fine literary 
discrimination an undoubted admiration for Lyly, affords 
strong confirmation of the theory that these superior verses 


were either written by Oxford for Lyly's plays, or were 
modelled by Lyly on songs written by Oxford. 

It is necessary to keep in mind that Oxford was pri- 
marily a lyric poet; that during the years in which 
many of Lyly's plays were being written q^^^j.^ ^^e 
the two men were working together, writing author of 
plays for the "Oxford Boys"; and that Lyly's lyrics, 
eight of the plays written by Lyly have been preserved, 
whilst the whole of Oxford's plays have disappeared. See- 
ing, then, that Lyly displays a marked weakness in lyrical 
capacity, whilst Oxford is specially strong, the most of the 
songs would almost certainly be the exclusive contribution 
of the latter, to plays in which there was more or less col- 
laboration between the two men. 

We come now to what is perhaps the most vital part 

of this particular argument. In estimating "Shakespeare's" 

indebtedness to Lvly, on what we are reluc- 

• "Shake- 

tantly obliged to call the orthodox view, we speare's" 

should have to include his indebtedness to this f"4 Lyly's 
1 • -1 1 • 1 T 1 1 1 lyrics, 

lyric work with which Lyly has been only 

doubtfully credited. For a comparison of the two sets of 
lyrics discloses a marked similarity of lyric forms, with 
something of the same rich variety. We have made a 
careful examination of the lyrics that reappeared in Lyly's 
plays in 1632, and although, until supported by recognized 
literary authorities, we may hesitate to affirm definitively 
that they are from the same pen as the lyrics of "Shake- 
speare," no one who knows the best of them will hesitate 
to say that they are such as "Shakespeare" might have writ- 
ten. Yet some were written, though not published, prior 
to 1584, the year in which the play to which they belong 
was published, and before William Shakspere is said to 
have left Stratford. Those, on the other hand, who hold 
that William Shakspere, who came to London and began to 
issue plays about the year 1592, studied carefully and 
modelled his work upon the published dramas of John 
Lyly, will find some difficulty in explaining how he could 


have modelled his work upon lyrics which were not pub- 
lished until 1632, or sixteen years after his own death. 

In this connection we shall give but one illustration of 
the similarity of "Shakespeare's" lyric work to the lyrics 
attributed to Lyly. 

Fairies sing: — 

"Pinch him, fairies, mutually; 
Pinch him for his villany. 
Pinch him, and burn him, and turn him about. 
Till candles and starlight and moonshine be out. 

("Merry Wives," published 1602.) 

Fairies sing: — 

"Pinch him, pinch him, black and blue. 
Saucy mortals must not view 
What the Queen of Stars is doing, 
Nor pry into our fairy wooing. 
Pinch him blue 
And pinch him black. 
Let him not lack 
Sharp nails to pinch him blue and red. 
Till sleep has rocked his addle head." 

("Endymion." Play written 1585. Song first 
published 1632.) 

No one can doubt that these two songs were either from 
the same pen, or the writer of one of them was indebted 
to the other. The connection being established, not only 
for the one song but for the lyric work as a whole, a diffi- 
cult problem, though, of course, not altogether insoluble, 
Is presented to those who believe that William Shakspere 
in writing lyrics for "A Midsummer Night's Dream," 
"Love's Labour's Lost," and "The Merry Wives," was 
working from a copy of Lyly's Lyrics. 

If "Shakespeare" wrote both sets, or 

disa"^ear ^^ ^^^ writer of the lyrics attributed to Lyly 

worked upon "Shakespeare's" model, then 

"Shakespeare" must have been some one who was 

right in the heart of the literary life of London some 


years before William Shakspere's supposed entry upon his 
career. If, on the other hand, "Shakespeare" was work- 
ing in 1602 on the model of Lyly's work, he must have had 
private access to his contemporary's manuscripts^ and have 
not only exploited the work to an extraordinary extent, but 
slavishly adopted the lyric forms and mannerisms of his 
fellow poet. That the greatest lyric and dramatic genius 
of the age should have so gone out of his way to follow 
pedantically a single writer of inferior powers to his own, 
even supposing the whole of that writer's work had been 
accessible to him — an almost extravagant suppositions- 
would bespeak a kind of infatuation to which geniuses are 
not usually prone. 

All these contradictory and far-fetched Implications 
disappear when the theory of authorship we are now ad- 
vocating is substituted. Under our theory "Shakespeare," 
in the person of Edward de Vere, furnishes the model, and 
becomes the initiating force and leader in the poetic and 
dramatic movement, and Lyly the follower and imitator of 
"Shakespeare." The anomalies and "disgraceful" inequal- 
ities of Lyly's work receive for the first time a rational ex- 
planation, and the mystery of "Shakespeare's" apparent de- 
pendence upon Lyly entirely disappears. Lyly's dramas 
are seen to be, for the most part, hasty productions intended 
for Immediate performance; receiving afterwards such 
dressing as a "superficial and tedious" writer was able to 
give them; but which had been modelled upon work of a 
higher order, and, In their first shaping for the stage, had 
had the advantage possibly of being trimmed and enlivened 
by the same hand that afterwards gave forth the supreme 


The dramas of "Shakespeare," on the other hand, are 
seen to be the finished literary form of those plays by De 
Vere which Lyly knew in the rough, as performed by the 
Oxford Boys In the days of dramatic pioneering, but which 
their author, with the feeling and vision of the true poet, 


had seen were capable of being transformed Into some- 
thing much greater and more worthy of an enduring exist- 
ence. At the same time the so-called Lyly's lyrics are seen 
to have been, in the main, a contribution made by Oxford 
to the plays composed by Lyly to be performed by the Ox- 
ford Boys — lyrics which on the one hand he had left, may- 
be, in too crude a form for pubhcation, being composed orig- 
inally just to be sung, and which on the other hand he was 
not willing should be made a present to Lyly. 

There Is no record of a single play of Oxford's ever 
having been published, and the lyrics from his pen published 

in his lifetime are without doubt the work 
Composition . , , 

and publica- ot a man who was most reluctant to commit 

*^*^^ °^ anything to print that had not been very care- 

fully revised and If possible perfected. With 
his artistic striving after perfection it was natural that he 
should work long and laboriously at any literary task he un- 
dertook, and that in the process of transforming his plays 
they should undergo such changes that the original work 
of Oxford should not have been detected In the finished 
plays of "Shakespeare." That writers of plays should 
adopt the practice we have attributed to Oxford of deferring 
publication Is no mere hypothesis Invented to meet a dif- 
ficulty. Even In the case of Lyly, with his evident eager- 
ness for literary fame and deficient sense of literary perfec- 
tion, the intervals between the production and publication 
of plays were considerable. "Campaspe," composed about 
1579-80, was first published In 1584. "Gallathea," com- 
posed In 1584, was first published in 1592; whilst "Love's 
Metamorphosis," which In a defective form evidently first 
made its appearance about 1584, was not put Into its pres- 
ent form and pubhshed until 1601. Between the actual 
performance of his plays and their ultimate publication 
there was usually a period of three or four years. With 
the richer, more elaborate, more highly finished and much 
more voluminous work of "Shakespeare," a longer interval 


was naturally to be expected; and it is just in that interval 
between Oxford's composition of his dramas and the ap- 
pearance of the "Shakespeare" work that the dramas of 
Oxford's private secretary and coadjutor make their appear- 
ance, having so striking a resemblance, in everything but 
genius, to the "Shakespeare" work, that the latter is sup- 
posed to have been definitely modelled upon it to a most 
unusual extent. 

Somewhere, then, about the year 1592 these plays of 
Oxford's we believe began to appear attributed to William 
Shakspere, and this is the time when Lyly's plays cease to 
appear ("The Woman in the Moon," composed 159 1-3). 
In 1598 "Shakespeare's" plays are first published with an 
author's name. Lyly's "Woman in the Moon" had been 
published the previous year, and after it he only published 
a revised edition of the old play, "Love's Metamorphosis." 
Both in the matter of presenting and publishing plays, the 
appearance of "Shakespeare's" work put a check upon 
Lyly's. About the same time there appeared Meres' ac- 
count of Elizabethan poetry and drama, containing names 
alike of authors and titles of plays; and, though he gives the 
titles of "Shakespeare's" works, and accords a foremost 
place to the name of Edward de Vere as a playwright, he 
does not give the title of a single play that Oxford had 

These are matters which belong more properly to a 
later period than the one we are now discussing. In re- 
spect to Oxford's early dramatic activities, j. j 
and the connection of his missing comedies connections 
with the work of "Shakespeare" — for it is ^ 
this early period with which we are now concerned — we 
have undoubtedly a most extraordinary set of coincidences. 
Two men, and two men only, Anthony Munday and John 
Lyly, are directly and actively associated with him In his 
dramatic enterprises. Both men have work attributed to 
them which Is evidently not theirs, and it is this work which 
specially Hnks them on — in Lyly's case in a remarkable way 


— to the work of "Shakespeare," thus forming a direct 
bridge between the "lost or worn out" dramas of Edward 
de Vere and "the greatest literature of the world." Surely 
this, along with all the other coincidences, is not merely for- 
tuitous. We may have laboured unduly these connections: 
their immense importance, we hope, is a sufficient justifica- 


After the year 1587 we lose distinct traces of Oxford's 
dramatic activity, and, in reference to this, we must now 

draw attention to an important set of con- 
Apparent siderations in which the poet Edmund Spen- 
inactivity. ... 

ser is implicated. 

In the year 1590, by which time the middle period of 
De Vere's life may be said to have closed, when though 
only forty years of age he seemed to have 
D^^Vere.^^ quite dropped from public view, and when 
William Shakspere, then aged twenty-six, was 
either establishing himself, or being established by un- 
known patrons, in the dramatic world, Edmund Spenser 
published his "Tears of the Muses." These "are full of 
lamentations over returning barbarism and ignorance, and 
the slight account made by those in power of the gifts and 
the arts of the writer, the poet and the dramatist" (Church: 
Life of Spenser). In this poem occur some stanzas which 
Dryden in his day, and Charles and Mary Cowden Clarke 
in more recent times, have appropriated to William Shak- 
spere, but which, notwithstanding this, have been more or 
less a puzzle to literary men ever since they were written. 
Most writers on either Spenser or Shakespeare seem to feel 
it a duty to say something about them. The matter is there- 
fore of extreme importance as a question of Elizabethan 
literature quite apart from the Shakespeare problem, and 
will necessitate a somewhat exhaustive statement. The fol- 
lowing are the most important stanzas in the set: — 


"All these, and all that else the Comic Stage, 
With seasoned wit and goodly pleasance graced, 
By which man's life in his likest image 
Was limned forth, are wholly now defaced; 
And those sweet wits which wont the like to frame 
Are now despised and made a laughing game. 

"And he the man whom Nature's self had made 
To mock herself and truth to imitate, 
With kindly counter under Mimic shade, 
Our pleasant Willie, ah! is dead of late. 
With whom all joy and jolly merriment 
Is also deaded and in doleur drent. 

"But that same gentle spirit from whose pen 
Large streams of honey and sweet nectar flow, 
Scorning the boldness of such base-born men, 
Which dare their follies forth so rashly throw. 
Doth rather choose to sit in idle cell, 
Than so himself to mockery to sell." 

First of all the expression "dead of late," it has been 
remarked by others, means, "not that he is literally dead 
but that he is in retirement." This reading ^^^^^^^,^ 
is not only necessary to make it fit m with what .^Willie-" 
follows— "to sit in idle cell"— but is also sup- 
ported by other passages in the same writer. The refer- 
ence is evidently to some one who, having been prominent 
in the writing of poetry, and in connection with dramatic 
comedy, had lately not been much in evidence. 

Whilst therefore the laudatory expressions are such as 
could only be applied appropriately to "Shakespeare " the 
date of publication makes it impossible that they should have 
any reference to the man William Shakspere. At the same 
time, the name "Willie" only serves to deepen the mystery. 
In the year 1590 the Stratford man was only twenty-six 
years of age and was just making his appearance m the 
dramatic world. He had therefore no great career be- 
hind him from which to retire, whereas the "Wilhe" re- 
ferred to in Spenser's poem had evidently already held a 
prominent position in the world of poetry and drama. Dean 
Church in his Life of Spenser proposes a solution the weak- 


ness of which he himself fully recognizes. He mentions 
that Sir Philip Sidney had somewhere been spoken of as 
"WiUie" and thinks that the verses may allude to him. To 
this theory he recognizes two very vital objections. In 
the first place, Sir Philip Sidney had never attempted any- 
thing in the dramatic line except some "masking perform- 
ances," and to these the laudatory expressions would be, 
he says, "an extravagant compliment." They would, how- 
ever, be much more than this : a grotesque distortion of the 
English language would be a more accurate description. 

The second great difficulty of the theory is this : In- 
stead of Sir Philip Sidney being in retirement in 1590 he 
had already been actually dead for nearly four years. This 
further difficulty, he thinks, might be got over by supposing 
that the work had been written some years earlier and had 
been kept back until 1590. To ante-date the work to such 
an extent as to make the stanzas applicable to the events 
of Sidney's life would throw out of gear the whole sequence 
of the production of Spenser's works and the personal al- 
lusions they contain, as well as the relation of his works to 
the events of his own life. Some other solution of the 
problem must therefore be sought. 

The key to this mystery, we believe, is to be found in a 

work of Spenser's published in the early years of the partic- 

„^, ular period of De Vere's life with which 

The ^ • 1 T T^ 

Shepherd's we are at present occupied. in Decem- 

ber, 1579, Spenser issued his first con- 
siderable work, "The Shepherd's Calender." Now, to 
those who are not specially students of Elizabethan litera- 
ture, that is to say to the great mass of English readers, 
to say nothing of the rest of the world, "The Shepherd's 
Calender" needs some little explanation. This set of poems 
is simply a series of burlesques upon prominent men of the 
day, who appear in the guise of "shepherds," and who ex- 
press themselves under disguises more or less penetrable. 
In some cases the names given to them suggest their real 
names, in other cases there is no suggestiveness about them; 


in some cases it Is quite understood whom they represent, 
in others they remain as yet undistinguished. Spenser him- 
self appears as "Colin Clout," Gabriel Harvey as "Hobbi- 
nol," Archbishop Grindal as "Algrind." The formation 
of the last two names from those of their prototypes will 
be readily perceived. 

Looking over the names of the various "shepherds," 
we find that there is indeed one called "Willie." So that 
when in 1590 Spenser speaks of the Willie "from whose pen 
large streams of honey and sweet nectar flow," it is nat- 
ural to suppose that, in accordance with his practice in other 
cases, he was carrying forward the same person as the one 
who had figured in the 1579 po^m under that name, but 
who, in the meantime, had given such a manifestation of his 
powers that by the year 1590 he was able to speak of him 
in terms which, as Dean Church remarks, "we now-a-days 
consider, and as Dryden in his day considered, were only 
applicable to Shakespeare." 

It has therefore been a matter of considerable surprise 
that notwithstanding the great amount of attention that 
has been paid by writers on Elizabethan literature to the 
question of who it was that Spenser meant by "Willie" in 
the above verses, it never seems to have occurred to any 
one to connect him with the "Willie" who appears in Spen- 
ser's earlier poems. Yet the very manner in which he cas- 
ually introduces the name is suggestive of an allusion to 
his first great work. The question, then, which concerns 
us immediately Is this: what are the probabilities that the 
"Willie" In "The Shepherd's Calender" was the Earl of 
Oxford? And If a strong case can be made out for such 
an identification we shall be entitled also to claim for him 
the allusion In the "Tears of the Muses," especially if the 
later representation of "Willie" fits in with the special cir- 
cumstances of Oxford at the later date. We shall also have 
made an Important contribution to the evidence that Ox- 
ford was "Shakespeare." William Shakspere of Stratford, 
we point out in passing, was a mere boy of fourteen at the 


time when Spenser's "Willie" makes his appearance in 
Elizabethan poetry. 

On turning to the poems in "The Shepherd's Calen- 
der" we find that "Willie" figures prominently in two of 
them. Under the month of March his 
m \ch"^^"^ ^^^^ ^^ somewhat subordinate ; but under 
the month of August he appears in what 
Is probably the most widely known and the best 
executed of the series ; having found its way into modern 
anthologies: its superior quality suggesting its being one of 
the latest composed of the set. This piece Is neither more 
nor less than a verse-making contest between two rival poets 
named "Willie" and "Perlgot." In view, therefore, of the 
general character of the work, its deliberate representation 
of eminent contemporaries, taken along with the literary 
situation at that time, the poetic rivalry between Philip Sid- 
ney and the Earl of Oxford, there is, to begin with, some- 
thing more than a mere presumption that the two rival 
poets, "Willie" and "Perlgot," were Oxford and Sidney. 
We therefore ask the reader to recall Oxford's verse begin- 
ning "Were I a king" and Sidney's rejoinder "Wert thou 
a king," already quoted in this chapter: verses which, from 
subsequent developments, must have been written shortly 
before Spenser's poem was published. Then let him turn 
to this poem of Spenser's and read it with the other verse- 
making episode in mind. It plunges Immediately by its 
opening lines into the cause of their antagonism. "Tell 
me, Perlgot . . . wherefore with mine thou dare thy music 
match?" And this he follows up with a further challenge 
whether "in ryhmes with me thou dare strive." Then, as 
if to put the matter of identification beyond doubt, a third 
party called "Cuddy" is introduced as arbitrator, and he as- 
sumes office with the irrelevant remark: "What a judge 
were Cuddy for a king!^ 

If any doubt remained as to whether or not the two 
shepherds represented Oxford and Philip Sidney it ought 


to be quite removed by the closing part of the poem. 

After the competition, Cuddie must needs finish up with 

some "verses" which he claims to have got 

from Colin Clout (Spenser). These are not «9"^^^\ 

^ ^ ' verses. 

even doggerel. In the place of rhymes he 
simply repeats the same words over and over again, and 
these, together with other words and phrases that make up 
the "verses," form but a verbal jumble composed of char- 
acteristic words from the poems of the two rival writers. 
To appreciate all the fun of Cuddie's lines one's mind must 
have been in some measure steeped in the two sets of poems. 
If, however, before reading Cuddy's "verses" the reader 
will turn to the last stanza quoted in the preceding chapter, 
and also note the few phrases we subjoin here from Ox- 
ford's and Sidney's early poems, he may be able to enter 
Into the humour of Cuddy's "doleful verse." 


"The more my plaints I do resound 
The less she pities me." 
"The trickling tears that fall adown my cheeks." 
"Help ye that are aye wont to wail. 
Ye howling hounds of hell. 
Help man, help beast, help birds and worms 
That on the earth do toil." 

Sidney : 

"Thus parting thus my chiefest part I part." 
"Alas, sweet brooks do in my tears augment." 
"A simple soul should breed so mixed woe." 
"Love . . . bred my smart." 

"Void," "House," "Bred," "Nature," are all words 
which seem to stand forth in Sidney's somewhat limited 
vocabulary. Even in the competition itself there is a fre- 
quent suggestion of the distinctive expressions of the two 
men. One example of each will suffice. 

From a poem by Sidney: 

"Such are these two, you scarce can tell 
Which is the dainter bonny belle." 


Spenser's poem: — 

"I saw the bouncing bellibone 
Hey, ho, the bonnibell." 

From a poem by Oxford: — 

"Patience perforce is such a pinchmg pain" 

Spenser's poem: — 

"But whether in painful love I pine 
Hey, ho, the pinching pain." 

A careful weighing of this poem can leave but little 

doubt as to the identity of "Willie" and "Perigot" with 

^^ J, Oxford and Philip Sidney: the only question 

problem is whether "Willie" is Oxford or Sidney. If 

solved. -1 • c ? 

we associate the contest m bpenser s poem 

with Sidney's "matching" of Oxford's verse, as we may 

very reasonably do, then "Willie" is Oxford; for it is Willie 

who finds fault with Perigot for matching his music and 

challenges him on that account to another matching of 


This, then, is the position: The circumstances of Ox- 
ford fit in with and afford a very strong presumption of his 
being the historic prototype of Spenser's "Willie" in the 
early poem, "The Shepherd's Calender." Between the 
writing of this poem and the writing of the "Tears of the 
Muses" Oxford had been engaged in just those dramatic 
activities and had made his name In the precise department. 
Comedy, In which Spenser's "Willie" had evidently won 
renown. And at the time when "The Tears of the Muses" 
was written, Oxford had withdrawn apparently from dra- 
matic activity and was seemingly "sitting in idle cell" pre- 
cisely as Spenser describes "WilHe" to be doing, x^re we 
to believe that all this is a series of meaninglesss coinci- 

Minor points In corroboration of the theory that Ox- 
ford and Spenser's "Willie^' are one and the same person 


may be noticed. The shepherd, "Willie," in the other 
poem in which he appears, remarks: 

"Alas! at home I have a sire, 
A stepdame eke as hot as fire 
That duiy-a-days counts mine" (sheep). 

(Day by day keeps a close watch over me and my affairs.) 
The reference to Oxford's domestic position, to the surveil- 
lance exercised by Burleigh, and to the irascible Lady Bur- 
leigh is obvious. Then in Spenser's sonnet to the Earl of 
Oxford, which occupies a prominent position amongst those 
with which he prefaces the "Fairie Queen," he puts special 
emphasis upon Oxford's ancient and noble hneage. We 
find the same note reflected in the verses in "The Tears 
of the Muses" referring to Willie, whom he represents as 
"scorning the boldness of base-born men." From this it is 
evident that "WiUie" was not "base-born," but rather a man 
distinguished for his high birth. 

We have every reason to beUeve, then, that we have not 
only solved the long-standing mystery of the "Willie" in 
"The Tears of the Muses," but have 
incidentally secured the testimony of no fe^stJJ^ony. 
less an authority than the poet Spenser, 
that the powers of Edward de Vere were recognized to be 
such as to justify his being described in terms which are said 
to be only applicable to Shakespeare. The fact that a so- 
lution proposed for one problem furnishes incidentally^ a 
reasonable solution to another is additional evidence in its 
favour. The testimony is also valuable as showing that, 
notwithstanding the non-appearance of work avowedly from 
his pen, he had given evidence, not of a falling off, but of 
such a development of his powers as to create a marked im- 
pression in the mind of his great contemporary. It is evi- 
dence, too, that he had produced much more poetry than 
we have under his own name, for the few short lyrics can 
hardly be described as ''lar^e streams/' The solution of 
this mystery enables us, moreover, to add another link to 


our chain of interesting evidence; for we find that some im- 
portant verses which are supposed by several writers to have 
reference to Shakespeare are found on examination actually 
to refer to Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford; whilst the per- 
sonal description they give is strikingly suggestive of Be- 
rowne in "Love's Labour's Lost." Finally, the two sets 
of references, the one appearing in 1579 and the other in 
1590, link together the opening and the closing phases 
of this middle period of his life. The former presenting 
him as a poet, and the latter as a dramatist, together help 
to make good the claim we have made for him: that he is 
the personal embodiment of the great literary transition 
by which the lyric poetry of the earlier days of Queen 
Elizabeth's reign merged into the drama of her later years. 
Thus we get a sense both of the literary unity of the times, 
and of the great and consistent unity of his own career. 

Assuming that we have here the correct interpretation 
of these allusions, there is every reason to believe that we 
have their counterpart in the writings of 
and^'w'ilf"^ "Shakespeare." The two enigmatical son- 
nets in which he plays upon the word "will" 
finish with the striking and emphatic sentence: 

"For my name is Will." 

Had these words been written by a man whose real 
name was William, like the Stratford man, they would have 
been as puerile as anything in English literature. Had they 
contained a direct reference to his nom-de-plume they would 
have been only slightly better in this respect. We have 
good reasons, moreover, for supposing that the particular 
sonnets were written before the "Shakespeare" mask was 
assumed (1593). Whether this is so or not, the particular 
words quoted point, no doubt, to some hidden significance. 
If, then, we are permitted to suppose that Shakespeare was 
alluding to the "Willie" in the poems of the great contem- 
porary, we shall have in these words nothing less than a 


direct confession from the great dramatist that he was none 
other than the Earl of Oxford. 

Before leaving this point we must not overlook the state- 
ment made by Dean Church that Sidney had elsewhere been 
referred to as Willie. No reference is given, 
but we take it to be an allusion to a poem and^ Sidney, 
which appeared in Davison's "Poetical Rhap- 
sody" (1602), another of the numerous miscellaneous col- 
lections of poetry in which much of the Elizabethan work 
has been preserved. There Sidney's death is mourned as 
the death of Willie. It is only in the first edition, however, 
that this appears; in later editions this is altered, as though 
the writer or editors had had their attention drawn to a 
mistake — a possible misreading of Spenser's earliest work 
— whilst the following footnote by the modern editor ap- 
pears: "I cannot recall any other poem in which the name 
Willie is given to Sidney." Although first appearing in 
1602 it is mentioned that the poem had been written a long 
while ago. Being an obituary work it is natural to sup- 
pose that it was written shortly after the death of Sidney 
(1586). Seeing, then, that the writer of the poem would 
at that time have only the Shepherd's Calender to go upon, 
the mistake was partly excusable. The publication of "The 
Tears of the Muses" in 1590 would furnish the grounds for 
the subsequent correction of the mistake which had evidently 
been overlooked in the first printing. 

At the time when "The Tears of the Muses" was pub- 
lished the Earl of Oxford did certainly appear to be sit- 
ting "In idle cell." It Is not impossible that 
the poem of Spenser's may have revived his ^.^J].! ^ 
literary activity, or It may have been that he 
was even at the time deeply Immersed In the literary work 
which was soon to burst upon the country. After such a 
preparation as he had undergone, we believe that such free- 
dom from practical work, as Is Implied In the words "to 
sit In Idle cell," Is just what was needed for the production 
of the Shakespearean dramas; and places that production 


for the first time on a really rational basis. It remains, 
therefore, to consider the third or final stage of his career, 
that which synchronizes generally with the period of the 
appearance of these works. 

In bringing this chapter to a close we would urge the 
extreme importance of the matter it contains. The chapter 
in which we deal with the lyric poetry of Edward de Vere, 
and this chapter in which his dramatic relationships are 
examined, must, by the nature of the case, form the prin- 
cipal foundations of our constructive argument. 

Manhood of De Vere 

(an interlude) 

Before entering upon a consideration of the third and final 
period of De Vere's life it is necessary to touch upon a few 
circumstances belonging to the closing years of the second 
period, which form a kind of Hnk with the third or last 


In 1587 we get the last indications of Oxfords dra- 
matic activities. Towards the end of the previous year 
Sir PhiUp Sidney, after enjoying his knight- ^^^^^ 
hood for only three years, died four weeks Mary's ^ 
after the battle at Zutphen in which he had ^^d Sir Philip 
been injured. At the time when Sidney was ^1^^^^^'^ 
lying dying the trial of Mary Queen of Scots 
was proceeding in England, and on the commission ap- 
pointed to try her was Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford. 

Certain dates relative to the two events just mentioned 
must first be fixed. Mary appeared before the commission 
on the 14th of October, 1586, and received her sentence on 
October the 25th. Sidney died on the 17th of the same 
month; that is to say a week before Mary received her sen- 
tence. Mary was executed on the 8th of February, 1587, 
that is to say three and a half months after receiving her 
sentence, and Sidney was buried on February i6th, a week 
after Mary's execution. Roughly, Mary's sentence was 
pronounced at the time of Sidney's death and her execution 
took place at the time of Sidney's funeral, from three and 
a half to four months elapsing between the two pairs of 



It was, of course, an extraordinary length of time to 
keep Sidney's body awaiting interment. It is still more 
extraordinary that this period should exactly synchronize 
with that during which Elizabeth was hesitating about, and 
Burleigh and Walsingham were urging, the carrying out of 
the sentence against Mary. To this must be added the 
fact that the most determined and unscrupulous agent in 
bringing about Mary's execution was Sidney's father-in- 
law, Walsingham, and it was he, too, who was most actively 
concerned in arranging for the elaborately organized public 
funeral that was accorded to Sidney; the latter affair entail- 
ing a call upon his private purse to the extent of no less than 
six thousand pounds, an enormous sum in those days, 
equivalent to about £50,000 of our money. All this hardly 
looks like accidental coincidence. 

We draw attention to these facts because an apprecia- 
tion of their bearing will help towards an understanding of 
the times in which Oxford lived, and the personalities with 
whom he had relationships. 

Mary's trial and execution is a reminder of the fears 
entertained by politicians like Walsingham and Burleigh 
that a Roman Catholic revival might occur at 
politicians ^^Y ^^"^^ ^^ England, and that the accession of 

a Roman Catholic sovereign would mean for 
them ruin and possibly loss of life. Mary's execution was 
therefore determined on by them upon political grounds. 
The country generally could not be considered whole- 
heartedly in favour of this step. The only people who 
really wished for Mary's execution were the politicians and 
the extreme Protestants; and therefore much remained to 
be done after securing the sentence before it could safely 
be carried out. Burleigh's association with the puritans, 
his "brethren in Christ," it is quite understood rested on 
grounds of policy. They represented a serviceable force, 
and he was not the man to neglect anything that would fur- 
ther his purposes. As the execution of Mary had become a 
set purpose with him and Walsingham, the puritans and 


any party or circumstance, which could be used for the fos- 
tering of that public opinion upon which the most despotic 
of governments ultimately depends, must needs be turned 
to account. 

Now, apart from political considerations, Sidney's sud- 
den transformation Into a national hero Is one of the 
most curious of historical phenomena. 
We are not urging that he was not a Sidney's 
worthy young man. We are quite willing to 
rest his case on the best that his friends have made out for 
him. Let us grant that he was the perfection of courtesy 
in his deportment, and that his conversation was attractive. 
Let us assume that the one chivalrous act recorded of him, 
the foregoing of a drink of water in the interests of a dying 
soldier, Is true and was unparalleled in its unselfishness. 
Still, It Is not for these things that people are accorded elab- 
orate public funerals and their deaths lamented as national 
calamities. When It Is asked what he actually accomplished 
in life, we begin to wonder at the great demonstration that 
was organized for the reception of his body In England, 
and later on for his Interment. Neither In arms nor In 
statesmanship had he attained such a pre-eminence as Is 
usual in the recipients of such state distinctions, whilst his 
achievements In literature, had they been as noteworthy as 
those of Spenser, would not have secured for him one half 
the national honour that attended his obsequies. We are 
naturally disposed, therefore, to look for some political 
motive behind the public demonstration and all the pane- 
gyrics that followed on it. 

Now Elizabeth's fear that the execution of Mary might 
result in a revulsion of public feeling against herself was 
so real as to cause her not only to delay the carrying out 
of the sentence but also to provide for shuffling the odium 
on to subordinate agents when the execution should have 
taken place. Burleigh and Walslngham were therefore not 
likely to be less sensible of their danger, and they, too, took 
steps to secure themselves against being saddled with the 


chief responsibility. Meanwhile a public opinion favour- 
able to their purpose must be fostered by every available 
artifice. In those days "public opinion" meant to a great 
extent "London opinion" and in times of crisis this could 
be systematically stimulated and directed by spectacular dis- 

As Sidney had been a staunch supporter of the anti- 
papal policy of Burleigh and Walsingham, a policy includ- 
ing antagonism to the Guises; having 
public somewhat aggressively made himself the 

opinion. spokesman of those who thought they 

were opposing the Queen at the time when she was diplo- 
matically toying with the idea of marriage with the Duke 
of Anjou; and as his life had been lost in an adventure in 
support of the same anti-papal policy, his death, with its 
power of sentimental appeal, was a v^aluable asset to his 
party which Burleigh and Walsingham could not afford to 
neglect. The projected execution of Mary being part of 
the same policy which had led to the affair at Zutphen, Sid- 
ney's death was capable of being turned to account. His 
party now had the inestimable good fortune of possessing 
a martyr, and this must needs be worked for all it was 

The elaborately organized obsequies, so out of propor- 
tion to any recorded achievement of Sidney's, bears much 
more the appearance of political strategy than of merited 
honour: the politicians of any one period being strikingly 
similar to those of any other. It is the very excess of the 
demonstration joined to the fact that it did not come spon- 
taneously from any public body but was worked up by in- 
terested Individuals that places the whole business under 
suspicion. We cannot recall any other instance in which 
London went into mourning with the same eclat as it did 
for Sidney. The matter was well staged and the Sidney- 
mourning-fashion caught on. No blame can attach to the 
man himself for all this, but when we are asked to perpet- 
uate the adulation we shall persist in asking, What did he 


do to merit it all? The fame that he has enjoyed through- 
out history probably owes much to the factitious send-off 
that it got at this time, and to the fact that the movement 
and the party to which he belonged were then, and after- 
wards continued, in the ascendant. 

Oxford, on the other hand, with his strong medieval 
affinities, was completely out of touch with the ascendant 
party, and his fame has suffered under a cor- 
responding disadvantage. Indeed we may j^^g tiLes." 
say that what he stood for remained under 
a cloud until the middle of the nineteenth century, when, 
through the combined influence of "Shakespeare," Scott, and 
Newman, a sense of what was admirable and enduring in 
medievalism began to revive. 

Protestant sectarianism was as contrary to his outlook 
upon life as it is to the wide genius of Shakespeare. On 
the other hand we cannot say confidently of Edward de Vere, 
any more than we can of Shakespeare, that he was an ortho- 
dox Roman Catholic. With the exception of the remark 
which we have quoted from Green we cannot discover any 
further evidence of his connection with the ancient Church. 
It is much more likely that his was the Catholicism of a 
universal Humanity, "with large discourse looking before 
and after," taking into itself the culture of Greece and 
Rome on the one hand, and on the other the visions that 
belong to a "prophetic soul of the wide world dreaming on 
things to come." We find no trace of medieval theologism 
in his poetry, nor any religious pietism such as that we have 
mentioned as appearing in the poems of Raleigh. Ox- 
ford's attachment was probably to the human and social 
sides of Catholicism and Feudalism, which he saw crumbling 
away and being supplanted by an unbridled individualism 
and egoism. 

We have dwelt at some length upon Sid- 
ney's death and Mary's execution not only be- f shadow."'^^'' 
cause Oxford's name and reputation are mixed 
up with Sidney's affairs, and one of the few recorded acts of 


his life is connecled with Mary, but also because the rela- 
tionship we have traced between the celebrity of one and the 
execution of the other helps us to focus Oxford's religious 
and political environment, and to realize something of his 
relationship to contemporary parties. These things go a 
long way towards accounting for the obscurity into which 
the names of Oxford and his immediate associates have 
fallen as compared with his antagonists. It also accounts 
for the peculiar fact, which has probably struck most of 
our readers, that we seldom meet with his name except in 
connection with opponents, thus giving the general impres- 
sion of a man at loggerheads with every one — excepting 
in certain literary and dramatic contacts. This compels 
us to examine closely the reputations of rivals and to modify 
any artificial advantages that they owe in this matter merely 
to the turns of fortune. Between Oxford and Sidney we 
see that there lay matters much deeper than the artistic 
vanity of rival poets. The two men represented opposing 
social tendencies, and to these are largely due the glamour 
that has gathered round one name and the shadow that 
has remained over the other. At the time of the French 
marriage proposal, which Burleigh, Sidney and their party 
opposed, Oxford had been one of those who favoured the 
project. One modern writer sees in this nothing more 
than an attempt on his part to win royal favour — from all 
accounts the last thing he was likely to go out of his way 
to do. Only as we realize his spontaneous hostility to the 
social and political tendencies represented by Burleigh, Wal- 
singham, Sidney, Raleigh and Fulke Greville shall we be 
able to judge him accurately or adjust ourselves properly 
to the Shakespeare problem. 

The question which concerns us is whether Shakespeare 
can be claimed as representing Oxford's attitude to contem- 
"Shake- porary religious and political movements or 

speare" and the attitude taken by the group of men we 
have just named. On the religious side we 
have already seen that their ultra-Protestant tendencies meet 


^rh^no support in Shakespeare, and in this Shakespeare 
and Oxford are at one. In continental policy the aim of 
Burleigh (and Sidney) was to keep open the breach be- 
tween England and France. Oxford, as we have seen, fa- 
voured a policy of amity and alliance between the two coun- 
tries. That this was "Shakespeare's" view is made quite 
clear in the closing scene of Henry V., where he expresses 
the wish "that the contending kingdoms 

"Of France and England, whose very shores look pale 
With envy of each other's happiness, 
May cease their hatred, and this dear conjunction 
Plant neighbourhood and Christian-like accord 
In their sweet bosoms, that never war advance 
His bleeding sword 'twixt England and fair France. 

"That never may ill office, or fell jealousy 
Thrust in between the paction of these kingdoms. 
That English may as French, French Englishmen 
Receive each other." 

In international policy, then, Shakespeare and Oxford are 

again at one. 

How differently might the whole course of European 
history have unfolded itself if the policy of Shakespeare 
had prevailed instead of that of the poUticians g^akespeare 
of his time. Oxford's general relationship and^.^.^^^^ 
to those politicians, moreover, is most clearly 
reflected in the works of Shakespeare where the very word 
"poUtician" is a term of derision and contempt. 

"That skull had a tongue in it and could sing once; how the 
knave jowls it to the ground as if it were Cain's jaw-bone that did 
the first murder! It might be the pate of a politician, one that would 

circumvent God, might it not?" 

("Hamlet," V. i.) 

"Get thee glass eyes; 
And, like a scurvy politician, seem 
To see the things thou dost not." 

("Lear," IV. 6) 

We can imagine all his contempt for Burleigh running 
through the above lines, and the minister's pretended at- 


tachment to the growing force of puritanism, his "brethren 
in Christ," finds a counterblast in the words, 

"Policy I hate: I had as lief be a Brownist as a politician" 

("Twelfth Night") 

an expression of contempt for both politicians and puritans. 
In a word, then, Shakespeare represents the Oxford point 
of view and not that of Oxford's antagonists. 

There can be little doubt as to which side Oxford's sym- 
pathies would lean during the trial of Mary; and so, when 
Burleigh, wishing to furnish himself with sub- 
and^Portir^ stantial authority for going forward with the 
execution, called together the ten men upon 
the authority of whose signatures he proceeded, Oxford 
was not one of the number. 

Again, we have nothing to do with the merits of the 
case in the matter of Mary's trial and execution; but, as 
we read of her wonderfully brave and dignified bearing, 
and of her capable and unaided conduct of her own de- 
fence, we can quite believe that if the dramatist who wrote 
the "Merchant of Venice" was present at the trial of the 
Scottish Queen, with 

"ringlets, almost grey, once threads of living gold," 

(H. G. Bell— "Mary Queen of Scots") 

he had before him a worthy model for the fair Portia, whose 

"sunny locks 
Hung on her temples like a golden fleece." 

("Merchant of Venice," Act I, sc. i.) 

Of this trial Martin Hume says, "Mary defended her- 
self with consummate ability before a tribunal almost en- 
tirely prejudiced against her. She was de- 
speeches, prived of legal aid, without her papers and 
in ill health. In her argument with Burleigh 
she reached a point of touching eloquence which might have 
moved the hearts, though it did not convince the intellects, 


of her august judges." And, in a footnote, he quotes from 
Burleigh's letter to Davison, "Her intention was to move 
pity by long, artificial speeches:' With this remark of Bur- 
leigh's in mind, let the reader weigh carefully the terms of 
Portia's speech on "Mercy," all turning upon conceptions 
of royal power, with its symbols the crown and the sceptre. 

"It becomes the throned monarch better than his crown. 
His sceptre shov/s the force of temporal power, 
The attribute to awe and majesty, 
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings. 
But mercy is above this sceptred sway; 
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings; 
It is an attribute to God Himself; 
And earthly power doth then show likest God's . 
When mercy seasons justice." 

Now let any one judge whether this speech is not vastly 
more appropriate to Mary Queen of Scots pleading her 
own cause before Burleigh, Walsingham, and indirectly 
the English Queen, than to an Italian lady pleading to an 
old Jew for the life of a merchant she had never seen be- 
fore. Who, then, could have been better qualified for giv- 
ing an idealized and poetical rendering of Mary's speeches 
than "the best of the courtier poets," who was a sympathetic 
listener to her pathetic and dignified appeals? 

In February, 1587, Mary Queen of Scots was beheaded, 
and this is the year in which we lose traces of Edward de 
Vere's connection with drama. It was a time ^^^^^^ ^^^^ 
of great stress and excitement in the country, ^nd the 
The fear of a Spanish invasion lay heavily |P^^^^^ 
on the nation and preparations were in full 
swing to meet the expected Armada. Passing, as we of 
these days have done, through times of still greater stress, 
we can now quite see the allusion to England prior to the 
coming of the Armada in the following pasage from 


"Tell me, he that knows, 

Why this same strict and most observant watch 

So nightly toils the subject of the land; 


And why such daily cast of brazen cannon, 
And foreign mart for implements of war; 
Why such impress of shipwrights, whose sore task 
Does not divide the Sunday from the week; 
What might be toward, that this sweaty haste 
Doth make the night joint labourer with the day?" 

Oxford, like many others who were out of sympathy 
with the policy of the government, nevertheless put aside 
all differences to join in the common cause of resisting the 
invader. As a volunteer he was permitted to join the navy, 
and took part in the great sea fight that scattered the 
Armada and dehvered England from the fear of subjuga- 

The picture of Spain's immense war vessels sailing 
grandly up the Channel, flying past the English ships, many 
of them but small traders that rose and fell with each slight 
movement of the sea, is familiar now to every English boy 
and girl. It is worth remarking then that the same play of 
Shakespeare's which suggests the figure of Mary Queen of 
Scots contains also a picture suggestive of the contrast be- 
tween the two fleets. 

"There where your argosies with portly sail, 
Like signiors and rich burghers of the flood, 
Or, as it were, the pageants of the sea. 
Do overpeer the petty traffickers. 
That curtsey to them, do them reverence. 
As they fly by them with their woven wings." 

Then as we remember the disaster that befel some of 
these huge vessels through the Spaniards' ignorance of the 

shoals and sandbanks round the English 
disaster^"^^^ coast, we can see the picture of one of them, 

lying on her side with the top of her mast be- 
low the level of her hull, in the lines : 

"I should not see the sandy hour-glass run. 
But I should think of shallows and of flats. 
And see my wealthy Andrew, dock'd in sand. 
Vailing her high-top lower than her ribs 
To kiss her burial." 


Quite what position the Earl of Oxford might have oc- 
cupied on board ship it is not easy to imagine; but we can 
well believe that as an intelligent though inexperienced sea- 
man he would find considerable interest and occupation in 

"Peering in maps for ports and piers and roads." 

The Earl was not a seafaring man, nor is there any- 
thing in the record of his life that suggests a special en- 
thusiasm for the sea. The same is true of "Shakespeare" 
as revealed in his works as a whole, whilst the passages 
we have quoted indicate some slight but special experiences 
of a keen observer, who humanized everything on which his 
eye alighted; not only the active vessels but even the bat- 
tered wrecks seeming to him to possess a human personality. 
Associated with Oxford's experience of sea life was the 
death of his wife. During the month preceding the ap- 
pearance of the Armada Lady Oxford died, ^^ ^^ 
June 6th, 1588. What this may have meant L^^y Oxford, 
to De Vere himself is a mystery which will 
probably never be quite solved, and which mankind would 
be content to pass over in silence if the Earl of Oxford 
were to remain for all time no more than what has been 
supposed hitherto. If, however, he comes to be universally 
acknowledged as Shakespeare, interest in the matter is cer- 
tain to be revived, and we may find that in his role of dram- 
atist he either answers our questions on the subject, or 
suggests some reasonable conjectures. 

Hamlet's sea experiences we observe stand in direct 
association with the death of Ophelia. It is whilst he is 
away that she dies. He returns at the time of her burial, 
and after the graveyard scene resumes with Horatio the 
discussion of his sea adventures. As, then, the attitude of 
Hamlet to Ophelia resembles in some particular that of 
Oxford to his wife, we may hope, at any rate, that, as 
"Shakespeare," he gives us in the famous graveyard scene 
a revelation of the true state of his affections: a supposition 


which even his conduct at the time of their rupture quite 

The death of Lady Oxford, and the subsidence of the 
national excitement in relation to the Spanish Armada, fol- 
lowing, as they do, closely upon the last indications we have 
of his theatrical enterprises, may be taken as marking the 
time at which he began "to sit in idle cell," or the beginning 
of the third period of his life. 

Manhood of Edward de Vere 

Final or Shakespearean Period 

"I THINK the best judgment not of this country only, but of 
Europe at large, is slowly pointing to the conclusion, that 
Shakespeare is the chief of all poets hitherto; the greatest 
intellect who, in our recorded world, has left record of him- 
self in the way of literature." 

Thomas Carlyle, Heroes. 

We have now reached a stage in our argument at which 
the study of dates becomes of paramount importance. In- 
deed, we are tempted to think that the failure ^^^^^ 
to appreciate the precise significance of cer- 
tain dates has gone far towards preventing an earlier dis- 
covery of the authorship of Shakespeare's plays. We can 
quite believe that other investigators have actually thought 
of the Earl of Oxford in connection with the problem, and 
have dismissed the idea because of certain chronological 
considerations, which may have been thought to stand in the 
way, but which, if carefully examined, would have actually 
been found to support and confirm the theory. If, there- 
fore, in this and succeeding chapters we dwell at some length 
on the question of dates, it is because what at first blush 
might give rise to doubts, when correctly estimated is found 
to furnish one of the strongest links in our chain of argu- 
ment. When, then, we come to these chronological mat- 
ters we ask for them a very close and patient attention. 



In entering upon the final and, as we believe, the most 
important period in the life of Edward de Vere, we must 
first describe briefly the position in which he 
d^ffi^^lt'^ then found himself in respect to certain mat- 

ters not directly literary. Although we have 
only the barest indications upon which to w^ork, we judge 
that for the first two or three years of this period things 
were not going well with him. It is not improbable that 
the suspension of his dramatic activities was due, in part 
at any rate, to the exhaustion of his material resources. His 
tendency to spend lavishly is unmistakable, and his play- 
acting and literary associates would provide an almost un- 
limited field for the exercise of his generosity. His own 
absorption in these interests must, moreover, have tended 
to place his financial affairs at the mercy of agents, and 
to throw them into confusion. To this must be added the 
almost royal state which he seems to have maintained in 
some respects. For at one point we get a glimpse of him 
travelling en famille with a retinue of twenty-eight ser- 
vants. Suggestions of this kind of thing, we note in pass- 
ing, are found in "The Taming of the Shrew," treated 
much more from the point of view of the master than of 
the servant. 

The need for ready cash must often have been pressing, 
and this need he seems to have satisfied by selling estates 
- "at ruinously low rates." Like the man with 

a "trick of melancholy" mentioned in "All's 
Well," he sold many "a goodly manor for a song," and 
possibly at the same time developed that contempt for 
"land-buyers" expressed by Hamlet in the grave-digging 
scene. It is interesting to notice that when lago, who, we 
have supposed, represented Oxford's receiver, urges upon 
one of his victims: "put money in thy purse;" he meets Im- 
mediately with the response, "I will sell my lands." What 
Oxford's exact financial position may have become we can- 
not say, but It was evidently very low, for we are told that, 
after Lady Oxford's death, Burleigh refused to give any 


further assistance to his son-in-law. The implication is, of 
course, that Burleigh had been assisting him before this. 
No particulars of such assistance are given, and we may per- 
haps be pardoned if we are somewhat sceptical upon the 
matter. In any case it must always be borne in mind that 
we depend chiefly upon Burleigh's own account of these 
things. It is clear, at any rate, that although one of the 
foremost of the aristocracy, and originally a man of great 
wealth, he had by the time of which we are now treating 
found himself in reduced circumstances. 

Like Bassanio in "The Merchant of Venice" he had 

"disabled (his) estate, 
By something showing a more swelling port 
Than (his) . . . means would grant continuance." 

And, like Bassanio, he also, in some measure, repaired his 
fortunes by marriage with "a lady richly left." ^^^^^^ 

Whether, Hke Portia, she was "fair, and marriage and 
TfiivLn^i, X , . ,, retirement. 

fairer than that word, of wondrous virtues 
we are not told; but if our theory of the authorship of the 
plays of Shakespeare is maintained, it is evident that the 
years he spent with her were to himself years of great 
productivity, whilst their importance in the history of the 
world's literature can hardly be overestimated. The exact 
date of this marriage is not given, but from the context we 
judge it to have taken place either at the end of 1591 or 

during 1592. 

As Sir Sidney Lee suggests that it is improbable that 
any of Shakespeare's plays made their appearance before 
J 592, we may take the marriage of Edward de Vere with 
Elizabeth Trentham as synchronizing with the advent of 
the Shakespearean dramas. If, however, we take 1590 as 
marking, in a general way, their first appearance, he would 
still have had two years of retirement after the events re- 
corded in our last chapter by way of special preparation for 
his work; whilst if we take the year of his marriage as the 


real beginning he had the advantage of four years of retire- 
ment, preceded by a probable ten years, and a possible 
twelve years of active association with the drama — quite a 
considerable and appropriate preparation for the work 
upon which he was entering. 

During part of the time Immediately preceding his sec- 
ond marriage he was living in apartments in London; an 

arrangement suggestive of that seclusion 
Seclusion. , . , , - , • i r i 

which we deem one or the essentials tor the 

production of work of the distinctive character of Shake- 
speare's plays. For we must state here, what must be 
emphasized later, that the Shakespearean dramas, as we 
have them now, are not to be regarded as plays written 
specially to meet the demands of a company of actors. They 
are stage plays that have been converted into literature. 
This we hold to be their distinctive character, demanding 
in their author two distinct phases of activity, if not two 
completely separate periods of life for their produc- 
tion. And, for the production of such a literature as this, 
freedom from distractions Is a most Important condition. 
The seclusion of De Vere, which we believe Spenser at this 
very time to have been lamenting in the "Tears of the 
Muses," has all the appearance, therefore, of a condition 
Imposed upon himself, as necessary to the fulfilment of his 

Now we must draw attention to what Is probably as 
significant a fact as any we have met. From the time of 
p^^ his second marriage till the time of his death 

important in 1 604, the record we have of him is almost 

a complete blank. In Sir Sidney Lee's ac- 
count of him one very short paragraph covers the whole of 
these twelve years. We are told that he was living in re- 
tirement: not, however. In the country, but In London or 
Its suburb. Hackney, where, therefore, he would be In direct 
contact with the theatre life of Shoreditch and that great 
movement of dramatic and literary rebirth, so aptly 
described by Dean Church: but of which Spenser In 1590 


had evidently detected no promise. Two public appear- 
ances alone are recorded of him during the whole of this 
time. But as even these were In the last two years of his 
life we have a period of ten years which may be considered 
void of all important record; and the two events recorded 
of the last two years involve no appreciable encroachment 
upon his time and energies. 

This then is the position: In 1592 he Is placed In com- 
fortable circumstances. He is just forty-two years of age 
and therefore entering upon the period of the 
true maturity of his powers. He has behind ^nchronlsm. 
him a poetic and a dramatic record of a most 
exceptional character. His poems are by far the most 
Shakespearean in quality and form of any of that time. His 
dramatic record places him in the forefront of play writers. 
Then a silence of an additional twelve years succeeds the 
four years of apparent idleness, and this twelve years of 
comfort and seclusion exactly corresponds to the period of 
the amazing outpouring of the great Shakespearean dram^as. 
Unless, therefore, we are to imagine the complete stultifica- 
tion of every taste and interest he had hitherto shown, he 
must have been, on any theory of Shakespearean author- 
ship, one of the most Interested spectators of this culmina- 
tion of Elizabethan literature, and he himself the natural 
connecting link between it and the past. Yet never for one 
moment does he appear In it all. His own record for these 
years is a blank, and — "no specimens of his dramatic pro- 
ductions survive." 

In w^elghlng evidence, In certain cases, what may be 
called negative evidence Is frequently of a more compelling 
force than the more positive kind. If such a dramatic and 
literary outburst had had no original connection with De 
Vere it must Inevitably have swept him within Its influence. 
But the very man who had the greatest afl^inltles with this 
particular type of production, and who, up to within a year 
or two of the first appearance of William Shakspere, had 
been amongst the foremost to encourage and patronize 


literary men, is never once heard of either in connection 
with William Shakspere or the Shakespearean drama. So 
far as these momentous happenings in his own pecuUar 
domain are concerned, he might have been supposed to have 
been already dead. 

We have, therefore, a most remarkable combination of 
silences; a silence as to his own occupations during these im- 
portant years, and a silence as to any manifestation of 
interest in a work which, under any circumstances, must 
have touched him deeply. We can only suppose that he 
did not wish to be seen in the matter; and the only feasible 
explanation of such a wish is the theory of authorship we 
are now urging. As a matter of fact the real blank in his 
records, so far as any adequate occupation is concerned, is 
one of sixteen years; from 1588 to 1604. This vast lacuna 
must now, we believe, be filled in by the Shakespearean 
literature. For he, who was supposed to be sitting in "idle 
cell," had already spoken of himself, in an early lyric, as 

"That never am less idle, lo! 
Than when I am alone." 

We would add, at this point, certain particulars respect- 
ing his domiciliation and life in or near London, that are 
Residences ^^^ without interest in respect to our problem, 
and He resided for some years at Canon Row, 

Westmmster, and this would put him, by 
means of the ferry, in direct touch with theatrical activities 
on Bankside; and thence, by an easy walk with Newington 
Butts, the scene of many of the dramatic activities of the 
Lord Admiral's company. This company is associated with 
the performance of plays by Marlowe, to whom "Shake- 
speare" acknowledges indebtedness. It also performed in 
the early years of this period plays bearing titles afterwards 
borne by "Shakespeare" plays. The following passage from 
a letter by one Anthony Atkinson, showing us the Earl of 
Oxford in relationship with the Lord Admiral (Charles 


Howard of Effingham, Earl of Nottingham: of Spanish 
Armada fame) has some interest for us: — 

"The Lord Admiral doth credit Captain Fenner, who 
excuses Elston and . . . the Earl of Oxenford sent word 
by Cawley that Elston was a dangerous man." The events 
do not concern us; it is the mere fact of personal dealings 
which matters. 

Oxford's residence at Hackney, the London suburb im- 
mediately adjacent to Shoreditch, then the scene of Bur- 
bage's theatrical enterprises and the centre of the theatrical 
life of London, has already been mentioned. A somewhat 
more interesting detail concerns Bishopsgate: continuous 
with Shoreditch towards the south. Although, so far as 
we know, Oxford never resided in this district, we find him, 
in 1595, addressing a letter to Burleigh from Bishopsgate 
(Hatfield MSS.). Evidence points to William Shakspere 
being resident there at the time, and to his having next year 
removed to Southwark, which was soon to take the place of 
Shoreditch as the theatrical centre of London. 

Thus we see him moving quite close to the "Shake- 
speare" work, but never in it. Yet, during these years, his 
letters show unmistakably the clearness and 
vigour of his intellect. The pubHshed docu- occupSions. 
ments do not supply the full text in all cases, 
but little Shakespearean touches appear. 

"Words in faithful minds are tedious," is one expres- 
sion, already quoted in our "Troilus" argument. 

"His shifts and jugglings are so gross and palpable" is 
another; clearly suggestive of "this palpable gross play" in 
"A Midsummer Night's Dream" (V. i ) or "such juggling 
and such knavery" in Troilus and Cressida (II. 3). The 
letters are, for the most part, formal and businesslike; but 
the poet's tendency to express himself in similes and 
metaphors is irrepressible. 

Not only is there abundant evidence of unimpaired 
mental power, there is also evidence of his being closely 
occupied with some work. A letter addressed to him by a 


member of another branch of the family apologises, in a 
way which does not seem conventional, for breaking in upon 
his occupations; so that, w^hatever his pursuits may have 
been, he was not regarded, by those who were in a position 
to know, as a man spending his leisure altogether in amuse- 
ments or in idleness. Yet, there is no external evidence, 
with one interesting exception, of his interesting himself 
in dramatic work of any kind during these years; though 
curiously enough, Meres as late on as 1598, when Oxford 
had apparently been dead to the dramatic world for ten 
years, places his name at the head of those dramatists who 
were "best for Comedy." 

One of the greatest obstacles to the acceptance of our 
theory of the authorship of Shakespeare's plays will be a 

certain established conception of the mode in 
speare's which they were produced and Issued; a con- 

method of ception which arose of necessity out of the old 

production. . . . 

theory. William Shakspere being but a young 

man at the tlm^e when the Issue of the poems and plays 
began, and having to write, it is supposed, In order to supply 
the immediate needs of what has been unwarrantably called 
his company of play-actors, it has been necessary to assume 
that each play was begun, finished and staged by itself, in 
a definite period of time, and that no sooner was this done 
in respect to one play than the next must be put In prepara- 
tion. A man with no accumulated reserves, immersed, it 
is assumed, in all the business of directing his company, 
and building up his own private fortune at the same time, 
would be compelled to finish off, and have completely done 
with, each play-writing task just as it presented itself. This 
he is supposed to have accompHshed in a manner which can 
only be described as miraculous. And, seeing the large 
number of plays which are understood to have existed be- 
fore a certain date, not only could there be no intervals for 
recuperation and the freshening of his conceptions w^hllst 
the flood of dramas was at Its height, but there has been 
a real difficulty in finding reasonable spaces of time for 



them all to be written. Consequently, the supposition that 
these plays were written by William Shakspere of Strat- 
ford involves the belief in a series of stupendous creative 
efforts within definitely assignable dates, and this concep- 
tion of a fixed order of production, with settled dates for 
the different plays, from 1592 onward, the rapid succession 
of which betokened a genius of almost superhuman 
fecundity, is bound to follow us into the discussion of a 
theory of authorship to which it does not apply. 

All the mass of data that has been collected with much 
labour respecting the first appearance of plays or the date 
of their registration or publication, comes to Re-interore- 
have a totally different significance, and in- tation of 
deed loses a large part of its value, when 
severed from the supposed miraculous productivity of the 
Stratford man. Perhaps its chief value may now consist 
in illustrating the folly of ever supposing that so prodigious 
an achievement could have taken place. Such a change in 
the personality and antecedents of the author as we now 
propose, alters the significance of all that Shakespearean 
erudition in which mere inference has been passed off as 
established fact, and demands a difHcult revolution in mental 
attitude towards the question of the manner and times of 
the production of the work. 

What is necessary, in the first place, is to put aside all 
mere inference, to look at the facts that have been estab- 
lished respecting the issuing of the plays in the light of the 
quahty and contents of the work, and to determine whether 
all these taken together are more suggestive of an author 
working under William Shakspere's or Edward de Vere's 
conditions; whether the work is suggestive of a hasty en- 
forced production amid a multiplicity of other activities, or 
of painstaking concentration of mind on the part of a writer 
relieved from material and other anxieties; and whether it 
suggests a writer living as it were "from hand to mouth" 
in the production of his dramas, or of one who began the 
issue with large reserves already in hand. 


In dealing with the dating of Shakespeare's plays, apart 
from the system of inferential dates that has grown up 
around Shakespearean study, we stand on 
SayT^ * ^ most uncertain ground. We have dates of 
the registration of certain works, dates of 
printing and publication, dates on which it is known that 
certain plays were performed, and we have contemporary 
lists of plays that show us that certain dramas were in 
existence at the time the lists were compiled; but such a 
thing as an authoritative record of the actual writing of a 
play does not exist so far as is yet known. All that the 
facts bear witness to, is that some of the works existed at 
certain dates; though whether they had existed five, ten, or 
twenty years before then is all a matter of conjecture — 
conjecture which may be made very reliable when it con- 
cerns William Shakspere of Stratford, but which may be 
entirely astray when another author is substituted. Never- 
theless, if we accept in a general way the dates that have 
been assigned, we find that, starting with "Love's Labour's 
Lost" in 1590 or 1592 (the early years of Oxford's retire- 
ment) and finishing with Othello in 1604 (the year of 
Oxford's death), we have in these an overwhelming pre- 
ponderance of the greatest of the Shakespearean dramas. 
This is then succeeded by a period in which there is greater 
uncertainty attached to the suggested dates, and a larger 
admixture of non-Shakespearean work. For in these later 
years we are assured that the dramatist had reverted to an 
earlier practice of collaborating w^ith others. 

What does seem clearly established, however, Is that 
during the period of what may be called the main Shake- 
spearean flood, two and sometimes three 
issue. plays appeared in the course of a single year, 

at the same time that great poems like 
"Venus" and "Lucrece" were also making their appearance. 
Meanwhile revised and enlarged editions were appearing 
of plays that had already been issued. Sir Sidney Lee's 
statement that Shakspere had no hand in these various 


publishing operations we accept. The idea that the author 
had no hand in them we reject entirely, as almost an out- 
rage upon common sense. The two plays which are as- 
signed to the years immediately following the death of Ed- 
ward de Vere are "King Lear" and "Macbeth." If, then, 
we assume that these had not been played before (by no 
means a necessary concession) we may regard them as being 
in the hands of the actors when De Vere died. Including 
them, therefore, in the main period, we find that according 
to Professor Dowden's list, out of the thirty-seven dramas 
attributed to Shakespeare all but eight had already been 
produced, and even this small residue includes such works 
as "Henry VIII," "Timon of Athens" and "Pericles," 
which, in their present state, we might well imagine the 
author was not very eager to send forth. 

Upon the Stratfordian view it is necessary, of course, to 
find spaces for the writing of what are called Shakespeare's 
later plays after the year 1604; for the whole 
of William Shakspere's time before that was later plays, 
fully, and more than fully occupied, and so we 
have, what must always have appeared something of an 
anomaly, the spectacle of the world's greatest dramatist, 
when but forty years of age, and after producing master- 
pieces like "Hamlet" and "Othello," resorting to a practice 
suited only to his literary nonage, that of collaborating with 
writers inferior to himself. No such necessity attaches to 
the supposition of Edward de Vere being the author of these 
later plays. His work during the years 1 590-1 604 would 
not consist entirely, or even chiefly, in the production of new 
plays for the stage; and he would be under no necessity of 
working at a breakneck pace. In his case works issued 
after 1604 might have been not only begun but actually 
completed many years before; and when we find that cer- 
tain plays, issued after that date, were completed by other 
writers, the situation involves no such anomaly as belongs 
to the Stratfordian view: that a living writer of first rank 
could so allow his own creations to be marred. The staging 


of his dramas would be to him only a secondary, though 
doubtless a fascinating consideration; but he must have seen 
that he was doing something much greater than supplying 
contemporary audiences with a few hours' amusement. To 
William Shakspere, on the other hand, the provision of 
plays for his company of actors (assuming that he was re- 
sponsible for its direction) w^ould have made it impossible 
that he should, at any time, be producing dramas much in 
advance of their presentation on the stage. In his case, 
therefore, the date of the actual writing of a play might 
be inferred with considerable certainty from the date of its 

The writer of these dramas must have known that what 
he was giving to the world was destined to live primarily 

as literature, or, more precisely, as poetry. 
Usuing^ ^"^ He might, therefore, in pursuance of such a 

purpose have chosen, except for material con- 
siderations, to have had every one of his works published 
posthumously. This hypothesis enables us to see that In 
such work dates of publication have no necessary corre- 
spondence with dates of wTltlng, and makes us realize how 
completely all inferences with regard to the years in which 
the several plays were written may be upset by the substitu- 
tion of another author for William Shakspere of Stratford. 
In the case of Lyly's plays, for example, we have seen that 
in some cases many years, and in all cases a number of 
years intervened between the writing and the publication. 
By way of Illustrating the strange but inevitable results 
of attributing the works to the Stratford man, we shall take 

a particular period and consider the writings 
Rapid issue. . . . ... i i n i i 

assigned to it. Although the Shakespearean 

dramas had been appearing since 1590 or 1592, it was not 
until the year 1598 that any of them appeared with Shake- 
speare's name attached: in itself a curious and suspicious 
fact. It may have no significance, but we mention in pass- 
ing that this is the year of Burleigh's death and also the 
year following the death of James Burbage who had staged 


the first "Shakespeare" plays. Oxford, we have said, died 
in 1604. In the six years intervening between these two 
dates, according to Professor Dowden's classification of 
Shakespeare's plays, William Shakspere wrote all the fol- 
lowing : — 

1. The Merry Wives of Windsor. 

2. Much Ado about Nothing. 

3. As you like it. 

4. Twelfth Night. 

5. All's Well that Ends Well 

6. Measure for Measure. 

7. Troilus and Cressida. 

8. Henry IV. (part 2). 

9. Henry V. 

10. Julius Caesar. 

11. Hamlet. 

12. Othello. 

Nor had this followed upon a period of rest; for, ac- 
cording to particulars we have compiled from the Bio- 
graphical Notes to the Falstaff Edition of Shakespeare, 
during the preceding year (1597) he had written two new 
plays and published three others that had been previously 

In addition to all the new work produced in these few 
years the same Notes represent him as having also pub- 
lished for the first time : — 

I The Merchant of Venice. 

2. A Midsummer Night's Dream. 

There was also published a "newly corrected and aug- 
mented" edition of "Love's Labour's Lost"; at least one 
other edition of "Hamlet"; (which was also revised and 
augmented) ; two fresh editions of "Henry IV," part i ; a 
second edition of "A Midsummer Night's Dream"; a new 
edition of "Richard II," two new editions of "Richard III" 
and a new edition of "Romeo and Juliet." 


When every allowance has been made for a fair pro- 
portion of those pirated and surreptitious issues which has 

characterized Shakespearean publication, and 
miracle^^^ also for mere reprints, in which the author 

may hav^e had no hand, it will still be ad- 
mitted that the output was enormous. 

If he had done nothing more than write the tw^elve new 
plays, even supposing they had been mere ephemeral things 
intended only for the stage, the achievement would have 
been extraordinary. When, however, we turn from 
quantity to the consideration of literary quality, it is difficult 
to understand how such an accomplishment could ever have 
been credited. Yet all this new creative work is supposed 
to have been produced pari passu with an extraordinary 
amount of other literary labour in the issue of new editions 
of former plays, much administrative work connected with 
the direction of the company, the more material occupa- 
tions of land and property speculations and litigation, en- 
tailing much mental distraction and the consumption of 
time and energy in journeys between London and Stratford. 
This, we make bold to claim, constitutes a complete reductio 
ad ahsiirdiim of the Stratfordian theory of authorship. 

It is much more reasonable, then, to suppose that what 
was actually happening in these six years was the speeding 

up of the finishing-off process, as though the 
perfo^rnmnce. writer were either acting under a premonition 

that his end was approaching, or the time had 
now arrived for giving to the world a literature at which 
he had been w^orking during the whole of his previous life. 
Everything suggests the rushing out of supplies from a 
large accumulated stock; and, therefore, instead of seeing 
any difficulty in the appearing of other Shakespearean plays 
after the death of De Vere, it is a matter of surprise that, 
according to the dates that have been assigned to the plays 
by the best authorities, so small a proportion of the purely 
Shakespearean work remained to be presented. (We are 
not now speaking of its being actually printed: this is an- 



other matter which must be discussed later.) At the same 
time, we are struck with the amount of doubtful and 
collaborated work which is assigned to the period subsequent 
to De Vere's death. Certainly the last seven or eight years 
of De Vere's life are, according to the orthodox datmg, 
marked by an extraordinary output of Shakespeare's plays, 
whilst his death marks an equally striking arrest m the 
issuing, printing and reprinting of these dramas. 

The above considerations ought to prepare us for a 
complete break-up of the seriatim conception of the creation 
of the ''Shakespeare" dramas. We have la- ^^^^^^.^ 
boured the point because of the difficulty of the reserves, 
mental revolution involved. If we assume an 
author who for ten or twelve years had been actively oc- 
cupied with theatre work; whose great wealth had been 
spent ungrudgingly upon it, engaging talented and educated 
men to assist him and to relieve him of much of the 
drudgery of theatre management; thus leaving him free to 
concentrate his distinctive powers upon the literary part ot 
the work; then, with the literary capital he had thus 
amassed, beginning another period of fourteen to sixteen 
years of comparative quiet and seclusion, in which to give 
a higher finish to plays already written, as well, possibly, 
as to produce new works, the whole aspect of the issue of 
this hterature becomes changed. To all the advantages of 
education and association with the highest classes of society, 
Edward de Vere was by this time able to bring to the task, 
on the one hand these stores of dramas which are sup- 
posed to have perished, and on the other hand the maturity 
of his own mental powers, as well as poetic gifts of a high 
order that had been amply exercised. Contrasted with the 
Stratfordian view or any other theory of authorship yet 
propounded, the supposition that Edward de Vere is 
"Shakespeare" places the appearance of this literature for 
the first time within the category of natural and human 


That "Shakespeare" had this faculty of secretiveness 


and reserve in respect to the production of great master- 
pieces — holding them back until either they were fit or the 
time opportune for their issue — is no mere guesswork. He 
tells us so in the plainest terms. For he had already been 
putting great dramas before the public when he published 
the poetic masterpiece which he calls "the first heir of (his) 
invention." Evidently then, according to his own account, 
it had lain in manuscript for years before its appearance. 
William Shakspere is supposed to have produced it before 
he left Stratford, and, as it was not published until 1593, 
even he must be supposed to have it by him for a number 
of years. And as "Lucrece" was published the following 
year, it too must have been well advanced at the time when 
"Venus" appeared. 

Everything points to "Shakespeare" being given to 
storing, elaborating, and steadily perfecting his produc- 
tions before issuing them, when his mind was 
revisfon^^ bent on producing something worthy of his 

powers. "Love's Labour's Lost," which is 
placed somewhere between 1590 and 1592, was not issued 
in its final form until 1598, and every line of it bears marks 
of most careful and exacting revision. "Hamlet," too, 
there is evidence, underwent similar treatment. How it 
could ever have been believed that the finished lines of 
Shakespeare were the rapid and enforced production of a 
man immersed in many afiairs, will probably be one of the 
wonders of the future. Everything bespeaks the loving 
and leisurely revision of a writer free from all external 
pressure; and this, combined with the amazing rapidity of 
issue, confirms the impression of "a long foreground some- 

Andrew Lang, in his posthumously published work on 
"Shakespeare and the Great Unknown," finds an argu- 
ment in favour of the rapidity of Shake- 
precisfonUt. spearean production in a comparison with 
the literary output of Scott. He ought, 
rather, to have found in Scott a warning example of the 


consequences of rapid writing; and, by contrast with Scott's 
verbosity, have found in Shakespeare's compression a clear 
evidence of the latter's careful and persistent elaboration 
of his lines. Now this tendency to revert to his work in 
order to further improve it is typical of Edward de Vere. 
Variant copies of his small lyrics are extant, and these 
furnish unquestionable proof that he was accustomed to 
turn back to poems, even after their publication, in order 
to enrich and perfect them. He was a precisionist the very 
ease and lucidity of whose lines was the consummation of 
an art which hid its own laboriousness. His nicety in speech 
and that careful attention to details of personal dress 
which frequently marks the man who strives after exact- 
ness, were, indeed, the subject of Gabriel Harvey's lampoon. 
These things may justify us in supposing carefulness in a 

detail like penmanship. His handwriting is 

.,,-,. . , , Penmanship, 

accessible and this surmise may be put to the 

test. Now we know that Shakespeare's MSS. for the use 
of the printers were clearly written, and a passage in "Ham- 
let" points to its being a detail to which the author was 
attentive. As, therefore, there are some very strange 
mysteries connected with the Shakespearean manuscripts, it 
is quite possible that the dangers of his handwriting being 
recognized may have determined their strict custody until 
everything was printed, and that then the writings them- 
selves were deliberately destroyed. We shall naturally, 
therefore, be interested to know whether any of the interpo- 
lations into Anthony Munday's play seem to be in the hand- 
writing of the Earl of Oxford. 

The question of the relationship of stage plays to litera- 
ture is one which touches our problem very closely. That 
the two things are quite distinct in them- g , 

selves from a certain point of view is and 
evident on the face of It. When the 
audience in a theatre wishes to see the unravelling of a 
plot, with all its entanglements in external circumstances 
and in the complexities of human nature, the elements of 


novelty, suspense and surprise must enter very largely into 
the performance. This need of a continued succession of 
sensations demands a bold and broad treatment; the deeper 
effects being attained not by the subtleties of condensed 
sentences, which rest but a moment in the mind, but by the 
total and general impression conveyed by whole situations. 

It would therefore be an irrational and wasteful ex- 
penditure of force to put into a play intended primarily to • 
meet the theatre-goer's demand for recreative novelty and 
sensation, a large amount of carefully elaborated detail and 
subtlety of thought, which could only be appreciated after 
reflection and long continued familiarity. To pack with 
weighty significance each syllable of a work meant only to 
amuse or to supply thrills for two or three hours would, 
moreover, defeat its own ends. On the other hand, the 
amplified form of statement, so necessary with spoken 
words in handling novel situations, becomes tedious in 
printed utterances intended to endure and be pondered 
over. These considerations by no means exhaust the ques- 
tion of the distinction between mere stage plays and dra- 
matic literature. They are intended merely to emphasize 
the distinction and are sufficient for that purpose. 

When, therefore, familiar dramatic literature is staged, 
as it may very properly be, it owes its interest on the stage 
..g, , to entirely different considerations, and makes 

speare" on its appeal, if not to a different set of people, 

at any rate to a different phase of their mental 
activities from what an ordinary stage play does. The true 
purpose of such a stage setting is to offer an exposition of 
the literature, to which it is itself subordinate. The fre- 
quently repeated remark that "Shakespeare does not pay on 
the stage," instead of being taken as a reflection upon the 
public taste, ought to indicate that there is some funda- 
mental difference between Shakespeare's and the other plays 
with which they are put into competition; and that these 
great English dramas are being viewed in a wrong light. 


and sometimes, possibly, put to a use for which they are not 
altogether suited. 

The fact is that his matchless lines, crowded with matter 
and intellectual refinements, demand not only maturity of 
mind in the auditor, but a willingness to turn p^^_ 
again and again to the same passages, the ^^^^^^^^^^^^J 
significance of which expands with every en- 
largement of life's experiences. This is one reason why, in 
order to enjoy fully the best contents of a play of Shake- 
speare's on the stage, it is necessary first to have read it; 
and the more familiar one is with it beforehand the greater 
becomes the intellectual enjoyment, if the play is at all 
capably handled. In this case the acting becomes a kind of 
commentary on the Hterature; a work of interpretation, 
bringing to the surface and unfolding its deeper significance. 
On the other hand, to have read and become familiar with 
many an ordinary stage play before seeing it would diminish 
interest in the performance. This implies no necessary 
slight upon these productions, but is meant merely to draw 
into clearer light the radical difference between those plays 
and the plays of "Shakespeare." When writings have taken 
the form and won the position of the latter, they cease to 
be the special possession of play-goers and actors, and take 
their place amongst the imperishable treasures of literature. 
Notwithstanding this fact, it yet remains true that, even 
as stage-plays, Shakespeare's dramas have been made to do 

yeoman service, and will no doubt continue to 

„ 11- 1 11- 1. Secondarily, 

do SO. Superb literature though his master- stage-plays. 

pieces undoubtedly are, they nevertheless rest 
upon a foundation of real stage play. And when this is 
brought into prominence, embellished with touches of his 
literary workmanship, effective results can be secured. It 
is almost absurd to have to emphasize the fact that the 
writing of even a very moderate stage play demands some- 
thing more than literary capacity. The production of such 
work is a highly technical matter, requiring an easy familiar- 
ity with all the mechanism of stage directions, and the ad- 


justments of "entrances" and "exits"; and this would be 
specially so in those early days of dramatic pioneering. 

Now, it is the unique combination of this technical and 
spectacular quality with their supreme literary position, that 
gives to Shakespeare's writings, one, at 
combination. least, of their distinctive features. With- 
out unduly labouring the point it will be 
necessary to determine the relationship w^hich these 
two elements bear to each other in his most finished produc- 
tions. Here, however, we may say that mankind has al- 
ready settled the question for us. For it is upon their merits 
as literature that the fame and immortality of Shakespeare's 
dramas rest. Though the writer's first aim may have been 
to produce a perfect drama for stage purposes, in the course 
of his labours, by dint of infinite pains and the nature of 
his own genius, he produced a literature which has over- 
shadowed the stage-play. It is difficult, therefore, to 
imagine that the relationship of these two elements in the 
same work represents a simultaneous product. And if we 
must choose between the theory of their being literature 
converted into plays, or plays converted into literature, on 
a review of the work no competent judge would hesitate to 
pronounce in favour of the latter supposition. 

We feel justified in claiming then that the best of the 
dramas passed through two distinct phases, being originally 
stage-plays — doubtless of a high literary quality — which 
were subsequently transformed into the supreme literature 
of the nation. We further claim that the man who had the 
capacity to do this had the intelligence to know exactly what 
he was doing; and having created this literature he was 
not likely to have become so indifferent to its fate as he is 
represented by the Stratfordian tradition. 

Keeping in mind that our chief purpose at 
poetry ^^ present is to see to what extent traces of the 

personality and life of Edward de Vere may 
be detected in the work of Shakespeare, w^e shall first sum- 
marize the position as it stands from the literary point of 


view at the opening of this third period. Having in his 
early years earned the distinction of being "the best of the 
courtier poets of the early days of Queen Elizabeth's reign," 
and having then passed through a middle period occupied 
largely with work in connection with the drama, in which 
he earned the further distinction of being "among the best 
in comedy" — which must not be interpreted as meaning that 
he had confined himself to this domain — he enters in the 
maturity of his powers upon a third period, the longest 
of all. 

Of this period little is known : but what we do know 
is that the conditions of his life at the time were precisely 
those which would lead a poet of such powers to work upon 
his stores of incompleted dramas, giving them a more poetic 
form and a higher poetic finish. Are, then, the plays of 
Shakespeare such as to warrant the supposition of their 
having been produced in this way? Do they look like the 
work of one whose chief interest was to keep a theatre busi- 
ness going, or of one who was primarily a poet, not only 
in the large and general sense, but in the special and tech- 
nical sense of an artist in words, making music out of the 
vocal qualities and cadences of speech? 

Again, to ask the question is to answer it. It is not 
only the number and quality of the lyrics scattered through- 
out the dramas that give to Shakespeare his high position 
as a poet; it is the poetry of the actual body of the dramas 
themselves, blank verse and rhyme alike, that determines 
his position. It is here that we have the poetry which raises 
its author to honours which he shares with Homer and 
Dante alone. Several of the plays can hardly be described 
otherwise than as collections of poems ingeniously woven 
together; and, to conceive of one such play being written 
as a continuous exercise, starting with the first scene of the 
first act, and ending with the last "exeunt," is an almost 
impossible supposition. Everything is much more sugges- 
tive of a poet creating his varied passages out of the 
multiplicity of his ovvn moods and experiences, and in- 


corporating these into suitable parts of his different plays: 
afterwards putting them through a final process of adjust- 
ing the parts, and trimming and enriching the verse. 

Now of all the men we have had occasion to pass in 
review in the course of the investigations of which we are 
now treating, we have met no one who could 
ancf Uieman ^^ considered as in any way fulfilHng in his 
person and external circumstances the neces- 
sary conditions for performing such a work at this particular 
time as does Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford. 

Take the single play of "Love's Labour's Lost," 
examine the exquisite workmanship put into the versifica- 
tion alone, and it becomes impossible to think of it as com- 
ing from "a young man in a hurry" to make plays and 
money. Think of it as coming from a man between the 
ages of forty and fifty-four, working in retirement, leisurely, 
under no sense of pressure or material necessities, upon 
work he had held in the rough, more or less, for several 
years, and there immediately arises a sense of correspond- 
ence between the workman and his work. It is not im- 
probable that for the production of such work as he aimed 
at, he felt the necessity of seclusion, and a freedom from a 
sense of working under the public eye; and this may have 
been not the least of the motives that led him to adopt and 
preserve his mask. Whether this was so or not, there can 
be no doubt that during these years in which there was the 
largest outpouring of the great drama-poems, Edward de 
Vere was placed in circumstances more favourable to their 
production than any other man of the period of whom we 
have been able to learn. 

Such, then, are the activities which there is every reason 

to believe filled up the years which are at once the years 

of his maturity and the years of his retire- 
Henry ^ . /• 1 • 
Wriothesley mcnt. ror nme years alter his marriage no 

a personal public appearance is recorded of him, and 

then the silence is broken in a manner as 

significant to our present business as anything with which 

Henry, Third Eari. of Southampton, from a Photograph 


Knowles, i?y Permission of Emery Walker, Limited. 


we have met. As far back as 1593 "Shakespeare" had 
dedicated to the Earl of Southampton his first lengthy poem, 
"Venus and Adonis." In the following year he had re- 
peated the honour in more affectionate terms in issuing his 
"Lucrece." In the year 1601 there took place the ill-fated 
insurrection under the Earl of Essex; an insurrection which 
its leaders stoutly maintained was aimed, not at the throne, 
but at the politicians, amongst whom Robert Cecil, son of 
Burleigh, was now prominent. Whether Edward de Vere 
approved of the rising or not, it certainly represented social 
and political forces with which he was in sympathy. We 
find, then, that the company of actors supposed to be man- 
aged by William Shakspere, and occupied largely with 
staging Shakespeare's plays, the Lord Chamberlain's com- 
pany was implicated in the rising through the Earl of 
Southampton's agency. 

In order to stir up London and to influence the public 
mind in a direction favourable to the overturning of those 
in authority, the company gave a perform- Helping the 

ance of "Richard II," the Earl of Southamp- Essex 

, . ,. . , , T.I • • insurrection. 

ton subsidizmg the players. In the rismg 

itself Southampton took an active part. Upon its collapse 
he was tried for treason along with its leader Essex; and it 
was then that Edward de Vere emerged from his retire- 
ment for the first time for nine years to take his position 
amongst the twenty-five peers who constituted the tribunal 
before whom Essex and Southampton were to be tried. It 
is certainly a most important fact in connection with our 
argument that this outstanding action of Oxford's later 
years should be in connection with the one contemporary 
that "Shakespeare" has immortalized. Considering the 
direction in which his sympathies lay, his coming forward 
at that time only admits of one explanation. The forces 
arrayed against the Earl of Essex were much too powerful, 
and he suffered the extreme penalty. Sentence was also 
passed on Southampton but was commuted, and he suffered 
imprisonment until the end of the reign — now not far off. 


It is somewhat curious that although ^'Shaksperes com- 
pany** had been implicated, he was not prosecuted or other- 
wise drawn into the trouble and his fortunes seem to have 
suffered no setback. 

The special interest of this is that it gives us the first 
suggestion of a direct personal connection between Edward 

de Vere and the performance of Shakespeare's 
connection. plays through Henry Wriothesley, Third 

Earl of Southampton; for it clearly indicates 
an interest on the part of De Vere in the very man to 
whom "Shakespeare" had dedicated important poems. As 
it was only with difficulty that Wriothesley's friends were 
able to save his life, it is possible, therefore, that he owed 
much to Oxford's influence. His liberation immediately on 
the accession of James I may also have owed something to 
Oxford's intervention; for the latter's attitude to Mary 
Queen of Scots must have had some weight with her son, 
and his position as Great Chamberlain, the functions of 
which he exercised at James' coronation, would place him 
immediately into intimate relationship with the king. His 
officiating at this important function is the last recorded 
public appearance of the subject of these pages. 

As in investigations of this kind trifles may prove 
significant, we may point out that just at the time when 

"Shakespeare" was dedicating his great poems 
son and heir. ^^ Henry Wriothesley, and, in the opinion of 

many, addressing to him some of the tender- 
est sonnets that one man ever addressed to another, Edward 
de Vere's only son was born. Now, we have mentioned that 
De Vere was proud of his descent, and also that the De 
Veres had come down in a succession of Aubreys, Johns, 
and Roberts for centuries almost like a royal dynasty. We 
should naturally have expected, therefore, that he would 
have given to his only son one of the great family names. 
Yet, in all the centuries of the De Veres, there is but one 
"Henry"; Henry, the son of Edward de Vere, born at the 
very time when "Shakespeare" was dedicating great poems 


to Henry Wriothesley. The metaphor of "The first heir," 
which occurs in the short dedication of "Venus and Adonis" 
to Wriothesley, would also be specially apposite to the 
circumstances of the time; and as "Shakespeare" speaks of 
Southampton as the "godfather" of "the first heir of my 
invention," it would certainly be interesting to know whether 
Henry Wriothesley was godfather to Oxford's heir, Henry 
de Vere. It is not necessary to our argument that he should 
have been, but if it be found that he actually held that 
position the inference would be obvious and conclusive. We 
have discovered a reference to the baptism as having taken 
place at Stoke Newington, so that it ought not to be im- 
possible to find out who the sponsors were. 

If the reader will further examine the sonnets round 
about the one which makes reference to the "dedication" 
he will probably be surprised at the number of allusions to 

As it is part of our task to indicate something of the 

parties and personal relationships of those days we have 

pointed out the spontaneous affinity of Ox- ^ 

r J -.1 .1 T- 1 r T7 J Contemporary 

rord with the younger Earls or Essex ana parties and the 

Southampton, all three of whom, having being insurrection, 
royal wards under the guardianship of Burleigh, were most 
hostile to the Cecil influence at Court. On the other hand, 
we have Raleigh along with Robert Cecil representing the 
force which Essex wished to oust. Of Raleigh we must 
point out, in relation to the Essex rising, that so malicious 
had been his attitude, both at the time of the Earl's prosecu- 
tion and even in the moment of the latter's execution, that 
he brought upon himself the odium of the populace. It ap- 
pears that when Cecil was disposed to relent in relation to 
Essex, Raleigh was most insistent for his punishment; and 
when the unfortunate Earl had won the Queen's consent to 
an execution in private, Raleigh made it his business to be 
a spectator of his enemy's execution. 

The conduct of Francis Bacon, too, had been even more 
indecent than had been that of his uncle Burleigh towards 


Somerset. It is interesting to note, therefore, that the 
fortunes of the two men whose conduct was most open to 
censure in this matter suffered complete collapse in the 
course of the following reign; the publicity of Raleigh's 
execution being a fitting punishment for his unseemly in- 
trusion upon the privacy of the execution of Essex. It is 
necessary to point out these things if we are to have a cor- 
rect judgment of the men with whom the Earl of Oxford 
had to deal, and upon the strength of whose relationships 
with Oxford most of the impressions of him met with 
in books have evidently been formed. 

Whatever opinions may be held about these things, it 
is clear, from the point of view of the problem of Shake- 
spearean authorship, that the famous trial of 
Ead of Essex ^^^ Earl of Essex assumes quite a thrilling 
interest. Standing before the judges was the 
only living personality that "Shakespeare" has openly con- 
nected with the issue of his works, and towards whom he 
has publicly expressed affection: Henry Wriothesley. The 
most powerful force at work in seeking to bring about the 
destruction of the accused was the possessor of the greatest 
intellect that has appeared in English philosophy: one to 
whom in modern times has actually been attributed the au- 
thorship of Shakespeare's plays — Francis Bacon. And 
sitting on the benches amongst the judges was none other, 
we believe, than the real "Shakespeare" himself, intent on 
saving, if possible, one of the very men whom Bacon was 
seeking to destroy. Some artist of the future surely will 
find here a theme to fire his enthusiasm and furnish scope 
for his genius and ambition. 

Before leaving the question of the rebellion and trial 
of the Earl of Essex we shall barely draw attention to 
an aspect of it which affects a theory of Shake- 
Southamp- spearean authorship that we have not deemed 

Oxfon? necessary to discuss at any length. The con- 

duct of Francis Bacon in respect to the trial 
of Essex has been discussed >ad nauseam and is therefore 


too well known to need describing. Nor Is It our business to 
enter Into the ethics of his action. It Is wholly incredible, 
however, that he could have been working secretly as a 
playwriter hand in glove with the very dramatic company 
that was implicated in the rising, and that one of his plays 
should have been employed as an Instrument in the busi- 
ness. Again, something is known of the nature of Bacon's 
previous friendship with the Earl of Essex; but, however 
cordial it may have been, It Is quite on a lower plane as 
compared with "Shakespeare's" feelings towards South- 
ampton. The terms in which the dramatist addresses the 
nobleman who was being tried along with Essex are those 
of personal endearment, and we must hope, for the credit 
of human nature, that to all the treachery Implied In the 
idea of turning upon a friend whose insurrection had been 
assisted by his own drama and dramatic associates (accord- 
ing to the Baconian theory) It was Impossible that he could 
have added the heartlessness of prosecuting one, his 
love for whom he had already immortalized by his 

Nor should we like to think that the very man whom he 
had Immortalized in this way could In turn have so de- 
lighted In wounding him and In seeking his downfall. For 
the Earl of Southampton was amongst those who sought 
and ultimately brought about the downfall of Lord Bacon. 
If to this we add that the most of "Shakespeare's" sonnets 
are supposed to be addressed to the Earl of Southampton, 
and that these were put Into circulation without protest 
seven years after the trial, at a time when the feeling of 
Southampton towards Bacon was very bitter, we have as 
tumbled a moral situation as It is possible to conceive If we 
suppose that Bacon was "Shakespeare." The decisive an- 
swer to the Baconian theory, therefore, It seems to us, Is 
Henry Wriothcsley. 

Moreover, Southampton's Interest In William Shak- 
spere and the Shakespearean plays suffered no decline as a 


result of his trial and imprisonment; for we find him im- 
mediately upon his liberation arranging for a private per- 

__, . . formance of "Love's Labour's Lost" for the 

Wnothes- . 

ley's interest entertamment of the new Queen; a most un- 
m t e p ays. \[]^Q\y thing for him to have done if its author 
had been a former friend who had treacherously sought to 
destroy him. On the other hand, unless the Lord Great 
Chamberlain — "one of the best in comedy" — who had re- 
cently shown an interest both in Southampton and the new 
occupants of the throne was physically incapable of being 
present, it is safe to assume, apart from the special theories 
we are now advancing, that he would be amongst the select 
party of spectators at the performance in Wriothesley's 
house. A more striking fact connecting the Earl of 
Southampton directly with Edward de Vere and the work 
of "Shakespeare," we reserve for the chapter in which we 
shall have to review Shakespeare's Sonnets in relation to 
our argument. 

The mention of the change that had taken place in the 
occupancy of the English throne suggests a most significant 
fact in connection with our problem. When 
"Shake- Queen Elizabeth died, the poets of the day, 

and Queen who had loaded her with most absurd nattery 
di'a^th^^*^'^ during her Hfetime, naturally vied with one 
another in doing honour to the departed mon- 
arch. We have elsewhere remarked that we have no single 
line of De Vere's paying compliments to Elizabeth, either 
during her lifetime or after her death; a fact which arouses 
no great surprise. A similar absence of any word of praise 
from the pen of Shakespeare has, however, always been a 
matter of considerable surprise. His silence upon the sub- 
ject of the Queen's death provoked comment among his 
contemporaries, and Chettle, the personal "friend" of Wil- 
liam Shakspere, made a direct appeal to him under the 
name of Melicert to 

"Drop from his honeyed muse one sable tear 
To mourn her death that graced her desert." 


This personal intimacy of Chettle and Shakspere, we re- 
mark in passing, is another Stratfordian supposition, for 
which there is no sufficient warrant; and that Chettle's 
"Melicert" was Shakspere is only another surmise. 

The honeyed muse was at any rate unresponsive, and 
no "sable tear" appeared. Considering the whole circum- 
stances of William Shakspere's supposed rapid rise and 
early access to royal favour, it is difficult to account for his 
silence at such a time on any other supposition than that he 
did not write because he could not: whilst the man whose 
instrument he was was not disposed to write verses for the 
mere pleasure of adding to the glory of William Shak- 

In another connection we have had to point out that 

Shakespeare's sonnet 125 seems to be pointing to De Vere's 

officiating at Queen Elizabeth's funeral. This 

- , 1 • 1 c /- • The sonnets, 

may be taken as his last sonnet; tor 126 is 

really not a sonnet but a stanza composed of six couplets, 

in which he appears to be addressing a parting message to 

his young friend. Sonnet 127 begins the second series, the 

whole of which seems from the contents to belong to about 

the same period as the early sonnets of the first series. 

If, then, we take sonnet 125 as being the Earl of 
Oxford's expression of his private feelings relative to Queen 
Elizabeth's funeral, we can quite understand his not 
troubling to honour her with any special verses. The argu- 
ment does not touch William Shakspere in the same way; 
for the reasons which lead us to suppose that the particular 
sonnet has reference to Elizabeth's funeral only apply If 
we assume It to be written by the Earl of Oxford. It is 
worth noticing, too, that these last sonnets seem to be 
touched with the thought of approaching death; and when 
we find that De Vere died on June 24th, 1604, the year 
following the death of Queen Elizabeth, to which they seem 
to make reference, the two suppositions we have stated In 
regard to them seem to be mutually confirmed. 

The special sonnet to which attention has been drawn. 


if it does actually refer to the part taken by the Lord Great 
Chamberlain at Elizabeth's funeral, shows clearly that 
Q r J , the participation was merely formal. It is 
Elizabeth's not necessary to account for Oxford's attitude : 
the point is that the attitude represented 
in the sonnet is precisely the same as that represented by 
the absence of any line from Oxford's pen on the subject 
of Elizabeth's death, and a similar absence of any Shake- 
spearean utterance on the same theme. In a word, every- 
thing becomes "of a piece" as soon as the name and person 
of the Earl of Oxford is introduced. 

There can be no doubt that as Oxford was out of sym- 
pathy with the party in power at the time, the success of 
the Essex rising would, from some points of view, have 
been gratifying to him; although, as a practical thing, he 
would probably, at his time of life, have considered it rash 
and ill-advised. The execution of Essex which had done 
more than anything else to injure Elizabeth's popularity in 
her closing years would not leave him unaffected. If, 
further, we suppose that "Shakespeare," whoever he may 
have been, retained in 1603 the feelings he had expressed 
for Southampton in 1593 and 1594, it is impossible to think 
of him writing panegyrics on Queen Elizabeth whilst his 
friend was being kept in prison. Chettle evidently did not 
consider his "friend," William Shakspere, sufficiently in- 
terested in the Earl of Southampton to withhold, on ac- 
count of the imprisoned earl, his "sable tear" from the bier 
of the departed Queen. Oxford's experience as a whole, 
however, would indispose him to join in any chorus of 
lamentation or of praise. 

The Hatfield manuscripts and the Domestic State 
Papers of the time represent him as making efforts to re- 
store the fortunes of his family by an appeal to Elizabeth, 
on the strength of his youth spent at her court, and promises 
made to him which had encouraged his early extravagance. 
The Queen had replied with gracious words, but neither the 
special office for which he was asking, the Presidency of 


Wales, nor any other appointment was granted to him; 
and his disappointment with the Queen is clearly shown. 
He certainly would be in no mood for lamentations over 
the departed monarch. 

We must now go back a year in order to draw atten- 
tion to another of those particulars which had passed un- 
observed until after the virtual completion of 
our argument. After fourteen years of ap- dramatic 

parent retirement from dramatic activities, reappear- 

. ance. 

Oxford makes his appearance once more, and 

on a single occasion, in the capacity of patron of the 
drama. It is a mere ghmpse that we are permitted to catch 
of him, but such as it is it has special relevance to our 
present purpose. Halliwell-Phillipps, in discussing the ques- 
tion of "Shakespeare's" relation to the Boar's Head 
Tavern, Eastcheap, tells us that ''in 1602 the Lords of the 
Council gave permission for the servants of the Earls of 
Oxford and Worcester to play at this tavern." It is of 
some importance, then, that the place which this tavern 
occupies in respect to the Shakespeare dramas should first 
be made clear. 

In current editions of Shakespeare's plays, this par- 
ticular tavern is specified in the stage directions as the scene 
of some of the escapades of Prince Hal and Falstaff (Henry 
IV, parts I and 2). In the Folio Editions, however, the 
name of the tavern is not given in the stage directions. The 
text of the play, on the other hand, makes it clear that 
some tavern in Eastcheap is meant: Falstaff remarking 
"Farewell: you shall find me in Eastcheap" (I Henry IV. 
I. 2) and Prince Hal when they meet at the tavern (II. 4) 
adding, "1 shall command all the good lads in Eastcheap." 
In reference to this matter Halliwell-Phillipps states: 

"It is a singular circumstance that there is no men- 
tion of this celebrated tavern in any edition of Shake- 
speare previous to the appearance of Theobald's in 1733, 
but that the locality is there accurately given is rendered 
certain by an allusion to 'Sir John of the Boares-Head 


in Eastcheap' in Gayton's Festiv'Ous Notes 1654, p. 277. 

Shakespeare never mentions that tavern at all, and the 

rpj^ only possible allusion to it is in the Second 

Boar's Head, Part of Henry the Fourth, where Prince 

Hal asks, speaking of Falstaff, 'doth the 

old boar feed in the old frank?' A suggestion of the 

locality may also be possibly intended in 'Richard IF 

where the Prince is mentioned as frequenting taverns 

'that stand in narrow lanes.' . . . There were numerous 

other tenements in London, including five taverns in the 

city known by the name of the Boar's-Head. . . . 

Curiously enough by an accidental coincidence Sir John 

Fastolf devised to Magdalen College, Oxford, a house 

so called in the borough of Southwark." 

Sir Sidney Lee connects Falstaff chiefly with the Boar's 
Head Tavern in Southwark, relegating the Boar's Head, 
Eastcheap, to a footnote, and ignoring the connection of 
Falstaff with some tavern in Eastcheap in the actual text of 
the plays. 

Whatever duplication of associations may have arisen 
from the connection of Falstaff with Sir John Fastolf of 
^ , _ the Boar's Head, Southw^ark, it is evident 

Falstaff. , , rill 1- • 

irom the text or the play, the stage-tradition 
supported by Gayton's Festivous Notes in 1654, and Theo- 
bald's and all modern editions of "Shakespeare's" works, 
that the "Boar's Head," Eastcheap, is associated with 
Shakespeare's creation of Falstaff. There is ample justifi- 
cation, therefore, for Halliwell-Phillipps's allusion to Fal- 
staff as "the renowned hero of the Boar's Head Tavern, 
Eastcheap," and for Sir Walter Raleigh's remark that "the 
Boar's Head in Eastcheap has been made famous for ever 
by the patronage of Falstaff and his crew." It is of more 
than ordinary interest, then, to find the Earl of Oxford re- 
appearing after an absence of fourteen years from the world 
of drama at the particular tavern associated with Falstaff, 
and in the very year that the representation of Falstaff 


culminated in the "Merry Wives of Windsor." For it was 
on January i8th, 1 601-2, that "a license for the publica- 
tion of the play was granted" and "an imperfect draft was 
printed in 1602." What would we not give to know the 
title of the play or plays that the servants of the Earls of 
Oxford and Worcester performed at the Boar's Head, 
Eastcheap, in the year 1602? It is another of those 
mysterious silences that meet us at every turn of the Shake- 
speare problem. 

Halliwell-Phillipps's connection of Falstaff with "the 
old boar" has also its special interest to those who may 

believe that Falstaff is a work of self-cari- ^ . ,, 

Oxford s 

cature on the part of "Shakespeare." For Crest the 
Oxford's coat of arms was the boar, and he 
himself is spoken of, in a letter of Hatton's to Queen 
Elizabeth, as "the boar." One of his ancestors was killed 
by a wild boar, and this would readily suggest to him the 
theme of his first great poem. It may be worth mention- 
ing that the character of Puntarvolo, in Ben Jonson's 
"Every Man out of his Humour," who, some Baconians 
believe, was Jonson's representation of Bacon, was also 
one whose crest was a boar. These things are at any rate 
interesting if not made too much of. 

Another interesting fact belonging to a much earlier part 
of Oxford's life connects itself with the particular mat- 
ters under consideration. The escapades 
of Prince Hal and his men, in "Henry fdvenuire 
IV," part I, involve not only the Boar's 
Head Tavern, Eastcheap, but also that part of the road 
near Rochester which connects London with Canterbury. 
Here the madcap Prince and his associates molest travellers. 
Now in 1573, the same year as Hatton writes his complaint 
to the Queen, speaking of Oxford as the "boar," others 
make complaints about being molested by the "Earl of 
Oxford's men" on the identical part of the road — "be- 
tween Rochester and Gravesend" — where Prince Hal had 
indulged in his pranks. Shooting had taken place, and 


everything is suggestive of a wildness, similar to what is 
represented in "Shakespeare's" play respecting the future 
Henry V. The exact correspondence ahke of locality and 
adventure forms not the least striking of the many co- 
incidences which our researches have disclosed. 

A special significance attaches to the particular year 
in which Oxford makes his reappearance as patron of 
The 1602 drama after an absence of fourteen years. In 

S^P- Chapter I, when deahng with Stratfordianism, 

we had occasion to point out that 1602 is the only year of 
the great Shakespearean period in which the records of the 
Treasurer of the Chamber contain no entry of payments 
made to the Lord Chamberlain's company of players. The 
company, it would appear, had temporarily suspended offi- 
cial operations. An examination of the records of "Shake- 
speare" publication reveals a similar gap. There was no 
new play published with any appearance of authentication; 
the 1602 publication of the "Merry Wives of Windsor" 
being, the authorities state, a "pirated" issue. For it is 
curious that, although Stratfordians affirm that William 
Shakspere published none of the plays, they nevertheless 
discriminate between "pirated" and authorized issues : the 
"pirated" being, it is presumed, made up by publishers from 
actors' copies, and not from complete versions. 

With the Lord Chamberlain's company apparently in a 
state of suspended animation we are naturally disposed to 
ask, what company of actors had been playing "The Merry 
Wives of Windsor"? Certainly the probability that this 
was the play which the servants of Oxford and Worcester 
performed that year at the Boar's Head Tavern is strength- 
ened. At any rate the gap itself is a reality, and not a sur- 
mise ; and this gap exactly corresponds to the complete year 
that Henry Wriothesley spent in the Tower: a very fair 
evidence that Wriothesley had been acting as intermediary 
between "Shakespeare" and others. It is then in the exact 
year in which "Shakespeare" was entirely without assist- 
ance from this agent, that the Earl of Oxford reappears 


in connection with the performance of some play, at the 
identical tavern associated with Falstaff; and publishers get 
hold of actors' copies of "The Merry Wives of Windsor." 
To the interesting chain of evidence presented by Ox- 
ford's association with the Boar's Head Tavern in 1602 
we have now to add an important link. In Oxford and 

the following year there occurred the death the Queen's 

. ^ T-^1- 1 1 1 • ^' r Company, 

of Queen Ehzabeth, and, agam quotmg trom 

Sir Sidney Lee: "On May 19th, 1603, James I, very soon 
after his accession, extended to Shakespeare and other 
members of the Lord Chamberlain's company a very 
marked and valuable recognition. To them he granted 
under royal letters patent a license freely to use and exercise 
the art and faculty of playing comedies, tragedies (etc.) 
. . . The company was thenceforth styled the King's Com- 
pany." Then In a footnote he adds, "At the same time the 
Earl of Worcester's company (that Is to say the company 
associated with Oxford's at the Boar's Head Tavern) was 
taken into the Queen's patronage, and Its members were 
known as the Queen's servants." 

It will, we believe, be readily acknowledged that, with- 
out being actually Identified with the company that was 
staging the "Shakespeare" dramas, the Earl of Oxford has 
now been brought, through the medium of the Boar's Head 
Tavern and the Earl of Worcester's company. Into very 
close contact with what Is usually styled Shakespeare's com- 
pany. It Is Important to emphasize the fact that the spe- 
cial reference to these companies In connection with the 
"Boar's Head" Is not one selected from a number, but Is 
the only reference of Its kind In that connection. Similarly, 
it may be worth remarking that the only dramatic companies 
in any way associated with the family records of William 
Shakspere at Stratford were 'The Queen's Company and 
the Earl of Worcester's Company" of an earlier date. For, 
In the palmier days of Shakspere's father "each (of these 
companies) received from John Shakspere an official wel- 


come." This is the single piece of information that re- 
search has elicited in any way connecting the Shakspere 
family at Stratford with the drama of Queen EHzabeth's 
day. This last fact, however, in the absence of fuller par- 
ticulars, we are content to put in, not as evidence, but as 
an interesting and probably accidental coincidence. 

In 1 60 1, then, Oxford took part in the Essex trial. In 
1602 he was associated with what was afterwards the 
Queen's Players in the performance of some 
de^th^^'^ unknown play at the Boar's Head Tavern, 

Eastcheap. In 1603 he officiated at the 
coronation of James. On June 24th, 1604, he died and 
was buried at Hackney Church. Unfortunately the old 
church was demolished about the year 1790, so that it is 
improbable that the exact spot where his remains lie will 
ever be located. This we feel to be a real national loss. 
We cannot believe, however, that the English nation will 
acquiesce permanently in the neglect of the place where 
"Shakespeare" lies buried. 

The year of Oxford's death (1604), it will be noticed, 
is the year in which the great series of Shakespearean 
dramas culminated. "Hamlet" is assigned to the year 
1602. It was first published in an incomplete form in the 
year 1603, and in 1604 was issued the drama substantially 
as we now have it. This point we shall have to discuss 
more explicitly in our next chapter. The tragedy which is 
universally accepted as the author's supreme achievement 
belongs, therefore, to the year of Edward de Vere's death; 
and the last words of Hamlet — the passage we quote at 
the opening of this series of biographical chapters — may 
almost be accepted as Oxford's dying words. "Othello," 
too, has been assigned to 1604 although it was not printed 
until 1622; that is to say, six years after the death of Wil- 
liam Shakspere, the reputed author. 

The actual details so far recorded of Oxford's life are 
of the most meagre description, and hardly furnish mate- 


rials for an adequate biography; but if what we are now 
contending respecting the authorship of Shakespeare's works 
be finally estabhshed we shall probably, in the 
course of time, learn more of him than of al- character 
most any other man in history. In his case we ^ep^t^tion 
shall have not the mere externals of life, 
which never quite show forth the man, but the infinitely 
varied play of his very soul in the most masterly exposi- 
tion of human nature that exists anywhere in the world's 
literature. Although these things mainly concern the future, 
there is one thing which must be said at once, and an im- 
portant claim that must be immediately entered on his be- 

Many generous pronouncements on "Shakespeare" have 
already been made in the belief that the Stratford man was 
the actual dramatist. Now, apart from the writings prac- 
tically nothing is known of the personality of the one who 
has hitherto been credited with them. These generous esti- 
mates of "Shakespeare," being almost wholly inferred from 
the plays he has left us, must in all honesty be passed on to 
Edward de Vere when he is accepted as the author. They 
are his by right. We cannot go back upon the judgments 
that have been so passed upon "Shakespeare," simply be- 
cause it transpires that the Stratford man is not he. By 
the adoption of his mask the author of the plays has there- 
fore secured for himself a judgment stripped of the bias of 
"vulgar scandal." He has, by revealing himself in his 
plays, trapped the world, as it were, into passing a more 
impartial verdict upon himself than would otherwise have 
been accorded, and given a signal check to Its tendency to 
hang the dog with a bad name. 

The references to him, which we have come across In 
the course of our Investigations, have frequently taken the 
form of condemnatory expressions, altogether unsupported, 
or most Inadequately tested by facts. All these must now 
be subjected to a searching revision. Having been for so 
long the victim of "cunning policy," he has, at length, be- 


come entitled to such personal appreciation as sober judg- 
ment has pronounced upon "Shakespeare" from a con- 
sideration of the writings. What the world has written in 
this connection it has written, and must be prepared to 
stand by. 


Posthumous Considerations 

"Although Shakespeare's powers showed no sign of 
exhaustion, he reverted in 1607 to his earlier habit of 
collaboration, and with another's aid composed Timon of 

Athens, etc.'* 

Sir Sidney Lee. 

We have seen that up to the time of the death of Ed- 
ward de Vere new Shakespearean plays and printed issues 
of plays formerly staged were appearing at a ^^ ^^_ 
phenomenal rate. These we have regarded finished 
as literary transformations of what had pre- 
viously existed as stage plays. Our next question is whether 
Shakespeare's writings, as we now have them, represent a 
completed or an uncompleted work. Even under the old 
supposition of an author who spent the last years of his life 
in retirement from literary work this question has already 
been answered, and the answer given has again constituted 
one of the paradoxes of literature. For we are assured 
that the greatest genius that has appeared in English litera- 
ture, when he had reached his maturity, and when there was 
no sign of falling powers, having lined his pockets well with 
money, retired from his literary labours, leaving in the 
hands of stage managers the manuscripts of incompleted 
plays, that others, at a later date, were called upon to finish. 
Shakespeare's work is therefore admittedly an unfinished 

Unfinished performances of great geniuses are not un- 
known in the world, but when they appear one explanation 
alone accounts for them — an utter Inability to proceed: 



usually death. To neither William Shakspere nor to Ba- 
con nor to any one else whose name has been raised in this 
connection does such an explanation apply. In all these 
cases we must assume the deliberate abandonment of the 
work for other interests. In the case of Edward de Vere 
alone do we get the natural explanation that the writer was 
cut off in the midst of his w^ork, leaving unpublished some 
plays that he may have considered finished, and others pub- 
lished later, either unfinished or as they had been finished 
by other writers. 

To suppose that "Shakespeare," having attained the 
highest rank as a play-writer whilst still in the heyday of 
^ . his powers, should, on approaching his zenith, 

and their have reverted to his earlier practice of col- 

^^^ ^' laboration with others — the master-hand in 

the craft returning to the expedients of his prentice days — 
is to deny to him the possession of ordinary common sense. 
And to suppose that he was so indifferent to the fate of his 
own manuscripts as to leave them to drift amongst unknown 
actors, without arrangements for their preservation and 
publication, is to suppose him incapable of measuring their 
value. Yet all this is implied in the Stratfordian view, and 
much of it in the Baconian. 

Under the De Vere theory the whole situation assumes 
for the first time a rational and commonsense ap- 
pearance. Prevented by death from completely finishing 
his task, he had nevertheless been speeding up the 
issue of his works for some years beforehand, and had 
friends sufficiently in his confidence to safeguard his manu- 
scripts and to preserve his incognito when he was gone. The 
admittedly unfinished character of Shakespeare's work we 
maintain, then, can only be rationally explained by suppos- 
ing that death, and not retirement, had brought his literary 
activities to a close. This is the first point to be fixed in 
the statement of our argument from the posthumous point 
of view. 

When we turn to examine the issue of Shakespeare's 


works In relation to Edward de Vere's death, we find facts 
of a specially Interesting and Illuminating 
character. We have already Indicated the sergeant 


tremendous outpouring attributed to the six Death's 


preceding years. Let us now see what hap- 
pens Immediately after his death. 

There are three points of view from which the dating 
of the plays may be regarded. First, we have the system 
of conjectural dating based upon the assumption that the 
Stratford man was the author; secondly, there are the as- 
certained dates of the first known publication of the plays; 
and thirdly, we have the recorded dates of the various early 
Issues, Including revised editions and mere reprints. 

Beginning with the first, that upon which much of the 
argument In the last chapter Is based, we find. In spite of the 
fact that It is largely guesswork, founded upon the very 
views of authorship which we are now questioning, it indi- 
cates a distinct check In the issues at the time of Oxford's 
death. Professor Dowden attributes but one play, "King 
Lear," to the year 1605, and one, "Macbeth," to the year 
1606: and even this last Is treated both by Sir Sidney Lee 
and by the compiler of the "Falstaff" Notes as very doubt- 
ful. At the same time, 1607 is chosen by the former as the 
year when plays again began to appear in which Shake- 
speare's work was mixed with that of contemporary writers. 
Even this hypothetical dating of the plays Indicates, there- 
fore, some radical change about the time when Edward de 
Vere died. 

As "King Lear" and "Macbeth" are ascribed to the 
two years Immediately following the death of Edward de 
Vere it has been necessary to examine some- 
what closely the data from which such a con- "Macbeth." 
elusion has been drawn. The most of this 
has been brought together in the appendix to the "Variorum 
Shakespeare," and the point on which much of the argu- 
ment Is made to turn Is the suggested allusions to the union 
of the English and Scottish crowns, contained in the plays. 


The rest seems' determined by the general scheme of finding 
reasonable spaces of time in the life of William Shakspere 
to get the work done. These allusions to the union of the 
crowns would be very natural to one who had occupied a 
foremost position at the coronation, if he happened to be 
trimming up these particular plays at the time : on the other 
hand, the general scheme of dating the works does not, as 
we have seen, apply to the Earl of Oxford. 

The most significant fact, however, which the study of 
other authorities brings to light is that, instead of fixing a 
definite year for each of these two plays, they assign a pe- 
riod of three years, 1603 to 1606, during which they assert 
these two plays might have been written. It will thus be 
seen that even these two may fairly be added to the appar- 
ently amazing production of the last six or seven years of 
De Vere's lifetime. 

Of "King Lear," the "Variorum Shakespeare" remarks 
that "Drake (in 'Shakespeare and his Times') thinks its 
production is to be attributed to 1604. ... I think we must 
be content with the term of 3 years (1603- 1606) ; no date 
more precise than this will probably ever gain general ac- 
ceptance." The case of "Macbeth" is even more interest- 
ing. Several authorities give again the 1 603-1 606 period, 
and Grant White affirms, "I have little hesitation in refer- 
ring the production to the period 1 604-1 605." With this 
in mind, the quotations given in the "Variorum Shake- 
speare" from Messrs. Clark and Wright (Clarendon Press 
Series) showing that "Macbeth" was a work of collabora- 
tion between Shakespeare and another are of great impor- 
tance. The question of an arranged collaboration versus in- 
terpolation is raised, and the following conclusion arrived 
at: — 

"On the whole we incline to think that the play was in- 
terpolated after Shakespeare^s death — or, at least, after 
he had withdrawn from all connection with the theatre." 

Had the works been dissociated from the Stratford 
man, or rather, if they had been avowedly anonymous from 


the first, the study of these particular plays would have jus- 
tified a suspicion that their writer had died about 1604: the 
year of the death of Edward de Vere. This furnishes the 
second stage in the development of our posthumous argu- 

After "King Lear" and "Macbeth" we enter upon the 
period which begins with "Timon of Athens" and finishes 
with "Henry VIII" : the former, according to 
the passage we have quoted from Sir Sidney piays.^^* 
Lee, marking the beginning of work in which 
"collaboration" becomes a pronounced feature, and the lat- 
ter, in which "Shakespeare" is supposed to lay down his pen, 
being generally recognized as largely the work of Fletcher. 
In this period we have great dramas that are no mere "pren- 
tice work," in which are passages and dramatic situations 
revealing this great genius at his highest. Yet it is in this 
work that we meet with deficiencies of poetic finish on the 
one hand, and the recognized intervention of strange pens 
on the other : a state of things to which we cannot imagine 
even a third rate writer submitting voluntarily. 

With all deference to Shakespearean scholars, we are 
bound to say that, in respect to the work assigned to this 
period, wonder and praise seem to have got the better dis- 
crimination. There Is so much here of "Shakespeare's" 
best, that there has been a fatal tendency to regard as good 
what Is more than questionable. Even the faults of those 
who have been called In to finish the work, or possibly even 
of the author's first rough drafts, have been treated as 
"Shakespeare's" most advanced conceptions, and as marks 
of his poetic development. We would specify. In particu- 
lar, the uneven versification due to additional syllables In 
the lines, faulty rhythm and "weak endings," which have 
made so much of the later so-called "blank-verse" hardly 
distinguishable to the ear from honest prose. 

Our commentators assure us that this Disguised 


"rag-time" verse shows us the mighty genius 

bursting his fetters. The real roots of this eulogized eman- 


cipation will, however, be readily perceived from a con- 
sideration of the following passages from North's Plutarch 
and Shakespeare's "Coriolanus" (one of these later plays), 
for which we are indebted to Sir Sidney Lee's work: 

North's Plutarch (prose). 

"I am Caius Marcus, who hath done 
to thyself particularly, and to all the Voices 
generally great hurt and mischief; which 
I cannot deny for my surname of 
Coriolanus that I bear." 

Shakespeare's "Coriolanus" (blank verse!) 

"My name is Caius Marcus who hath done 
To thee particularly, and to all the Voices 
Great hurt and mischief; thereto witness may 
My surname Coriolanus." 

At last, then, the secret of this great literary emancipa- 
tion is out. The people who were "finishing off" these later 
plays took straightforward prose, either from the works 
of others, or from rough notes collected by "Shakespeare" 
in preparing his dramas, and chopped it up, along with a 
little dre^ssing, to make it look in print something like blank 
verse. That "Shakespeare," living, could have volunta- 
rily suffered such work to go forth as his is inconceivable. 
The result of such a method has been the production of 
faulty rhythm and "weak endings," and these have been 
hailed by learned Shakespeareans as tokens of a great 
poetic liberation. On this plan even a schoolboy might con- 
ceivably give us an edition of Newton's "Principia" In 

"Cymbeline" (another of these later plays) Is also 
strongly marked by "weak endings" and interpolations; and 
both Professor Dowden and Stanton recognize in the play 
the participation of an Inferior hand. 

Of "Antony and Cleopatra," Sir Sidney Lee remarks: 
"The source of the tragedy is the life of Antonlus In North's 
Plutarch. Shakespeare followed closely the historical nar- 
rative, and assimilated not merely Its temper, but In the first 


three acts, much of Its phraseology." The case of ''The 
Tempest" we reserve for special examination in the ap- 

The general stamp, then, of this later work Is greatness, 
suggestive of unfailing powers; and defects suggestive of un- 
finished workmanship and the Intervention of Inferior pens: 
a combination which we claim can only be explained by the 
death of the dramatist. 

With the Earl of Oxford substituted for William Shak- 
spere much of the guesswork relating to the time when 
the plays were written ceases to have any 
value : what Is of most consequence now Is the pubHcation. 
date of actual issue. We have, therefore, 
compiled a Hst of the dates when the first printed Issues of 
the plays appeared; and although errors may have crept 
In, owing to the relatively subordinate position hitherto as- 
signed to this particular group of facts, It will presently 
appear that their general trend is sufficiently well marked 
for our purpose. "Venus" and "Lucrece" were published 
in 1593 and 1594 respectively: an Interval of four years 
passed before the printing of the plays began, and even then 
the first of the series had not Shakespeare's name attached. 
The Sonnets are Included In the following list because of 
their special Importance. 

Three Periods of Shakespearean Publication after 
"Venus" and "Lucrece." 

Compiled from Notes to "Pocket Falstaff" Edition. 

ist Period (1597-1603). 

1. Richard II. 

2. RIchardTIL 

3. Romeo and Juliet. 

4. Love's Labour's Lost. 

5. Henry IV, part i. 

6. Henry IV, part 2. 


7. Henry V. 

8. Merchant of Venice. 

9. Midsummer Night's Dream. 

10. Much Ado About Nothing. 

11. Titus Andronicus. 

12. Merry Wives of Windsor (pirated). 

13. Hamlet (pirated) : authentic in 1604. 

Arrested publication (i 604-1607 inclusive). 

No new publication. 

2nd Period (1608-9). 

1. King Lear. 

2. Troilus and Cressida. 

3. Pericles. 

4. Sonnets. 

3rd Period (1622-23). 

1622 Othello. 

1623 (Folio Edition). 

All the remainder, twenty plays in all, including such 
well-known names as, 

As You Like It. 

Taming of the Shrew. 



Julius Caesar. 

King John. 

Twelfth Night. 

Measure for Measure. 

Two Gentleman of Verona. 

All's Well that Ends Well. 

In the six years from 1597 to 1603 it will be noticed 
there were no less than thirteen plays of Shakespeare's 
printed and published for the first time. Some of these had 
been staged in previous years, and others were then being 


both staged and printed for the first time. This brings us 
to the year before Oxford's death. 

From 16O3 to 16O8, according to this record, no sing:le play 
was printed and published for the first time. Even supposing 
there are mistakes and oversights in these notes, 
there is still a large enough margin for us to affirm 
confidently that the publication of Shake- 
speare's plays was arrested in a marked de- stopp^age. 
gree for several years after the death of Ed- 
ward de Vere. We may add that this arrested publication 
is fully borne out by Professor Dowden's table, Sir Sidney 
Lee's account, and every other record we have seen. This 
gives us the third and probably the most telling of our argu- 
ments from the posthumous standpoint. 

If, again, we turn to the issuing of mere reprints, en- 
tailing no literary work properly speaking, we find that after 
1604 there was nothing reprinted until 1608, except the two 
popular plays of "Hamlet" and "Richard III," for which 
we might judge there would be a considerable demand: 
and even these were only reprinted once, namely, in 1605. 
It would therefore seem that all kinds of issues, including 
even pirated and surreptitious editions, as well as mere re- 
prints, were definitely checked at the time of Oxford's death: 
a fact which should give Shakespearean scholars "furiously 
to think" respecting much of the so-called "pirated" work. 
So complete an arrest of publication at this precise moment 
is almost startling in its character; the slight resumption 
which took place after an interval of four years is not less 

In 1608 and 1609 there was a slight revival of Shake- 
spearean publication involving, however, only three plays 
and the Sonnets. Nothing else was newly 
published until "Othello" in 1622, and the ^evLd°^"^ 
Folio edition of Shakespeare in 1623, six and 
seven years respectively after the death of the Stratford 
Shakspere. Even according to the Stratfordian view, then, 
the most of Shakespeare's works were published posthu- 


mously. In the Folio edition no less than twenty out of 
the thirty-seven, so called, Shakespearean plays were printed 
and published for the first time — so far as anything has yet 
been discovered. Of the three plays appearing in this tem- 
porary revival one is "Pericles," which was published in 
1609; the same year as the Sonnets appeared. Now the 
manner of the publication of these two, "Pericles" and the 
"Sonnets," is as strong a confirmation as could be wished 
for that the dramatist himself was by this time dead. We 
shall take "Pericles" first, quoting again the "Falstaff" 

"Pericles" is mainly from other hands than Shake- 
speare's, probably those of Wilkins and Rowley. It was 

. „ first printed in quarto in 1609 with the fol- 
low^mg title: — 

" 'Pericles' ... as it hath been divers times acted by 
his Majesty's servants at the Globe. ... By William 
Shakspere . . ." 

This play was therefore Issued with the full Imprimatur 
of WiUiam Shakspere and the Globe Theatre, although it 
is mainly from other hands than Shakespeare's. Contrast 
this with the plays issued during the life of De Vere under 
the "Shakespeare" nom-de-plume. They are: 

1598 Love's Labour's Lost. 

1600 Henry IV, part 2. 

The Merchant of Venice. 

A Midsummer Night's Dream. 

Much Ado About Nothing. 

1602 The Merry Wives of Windsor (pirated). 

1603 Hamlet (curtailed and pirated). 

1604 Hamlet: authorized. 

Leaving out of consideration the plays published in 1597 
and 1598 without any author's name attached, the important 
point to notice is the character of the plays which received 
the Shakespeare imprimatur up to the time of the death of 
De Vere. No one would venture to say of any one of 


these that it was "mainly from other hands" than Shake- 
speare's, whatever opinion he might hold as to the quality 
or completeness of the play Itself. It Is of Interest, too, 
that although "Titus Andronicus" was published in the same 
period It was without the name of "Shakespeare." The 
natural conclusion is that when In 1609 "Pericles" was pub- 
lished, with all the eclat of a genuine Shakespearean play, 
the controlling hand of "Shakespeare" himself had been re- 
moved. Those who were directing matters may have be- 
lieved It to have been his: what is more probable is that It 
was they who had called in assistance to finish a play which 
he had left unfinished. 

Take now the Issue of the Sonnets, a problem that has 
agitated and puzzled the literary world for so long. We 

need not at present discuss the question of who 

WT T 1 '-r» '-r* 1 1 The Sonnets. 

. Jrl. and 1.1. may have been, or attempt 

to clear up the mystery of their association with the publica- 
tion of these poems; but ninety per cent, of the mystery of 
the publication disappears as soon as we suppose a posthu- 
mous Issue. Indeed the dedication to the Sonnets has been 
telling us for three hundred years. In the plainest of terms, 
that the writer was already dead. It may be a curiosity 
of language, but It Is nevertheless a fact, that we only speak 
of a man being "ever-living" after he is actually dead; and 
In the dedication of the Sonnets their author is referred to 
as "our ever-living poet." Who then was this "ever-living 
poet"? Surely not the man who, to all appearances, had 
deserted or was preparing to desert the high interests of 
literature and drama and attend to his land and houses at 
Stratford, and who was being completely Ignored by those 
who were issuing the full literary text of what were supposed 
to be his great personal poems. Neither is it likely that 
"our ever-living poet" was at that moment discharging the 
functions of solicitor-general with his eye upon the wool- 
sack, or planning his "Great Instauration." 

To suppose that a set of no less than one hundred and 


fifty sonnets, many of them of exquisite quality, touching 
the most private experiences and sentiments of a great 
A genius, whose work proclaims an almost fas- 

publication tidious regard on his part for his productions, 
1 y. could, while he was yet alive, have found their 

way into print, surreptitiously, with strange initials attached, 
without his knowledge, consent, signature, or immediate and 
emphatic protest, is as extravagant a supposition as could 
be imagined. Yet all this is imphed in the Stratfordian 
theory of authorship. The only hypothesis that adequately 
explains the situation is that the poet himself was dead and 
his manuscript had passed into other hands. The dedica- 
tion itself proclaims the fact, and the simultaneous issue of 
"Pericles" confirms it. 

We shall close the discussion of these two publications 
with a sentence bearing on each from Sir Sidney Lee's Life 
of Shakespeare. 

Pericles: "The bombastic form of title shows that 
Shakespeare had no hand in the publication" (1609). 

Sonnets: "He (Shakespeare) cannot be credited with 
any responsibility for the publication of Thorpe's collection 
of his sonnets in 1609." 

In respect to the other two plays published in 1608-9 
it will be enough to give the following quotations from the 
"King same work. ^^King Lear^^ . . ."was defaced 

Lear" and by many gross typographical errors. Some 
of the sheets were never subjected to any cor- 
rection of the press. The publisher, Butter, endeavoured 
to make some reparation ... by issuing a second quarto 
which was designed to free the text of the most obvious 
incoherences of the first quarto. But the effort was not 
successful. Uncorrected sheets disfigured the second quarto 
little less conspicuously than the first." 

'^Troilus and Cressida'^ . . . "Exceptional obscurity 
attaches to the circumstances of the publication. . . . After 
a pompous title-page there was inserted for the first time 
in the case of a play by Shakespeare that was published in 


his lifetime, an advertisement or preface ... the publish- 
ers paid bombastic and high-flown compliments to Shake- 
speare . . . and defiantly boasted that the grand posses- 
sors of the manuscript deprecated its publication." This is 
the particular play which we pointed out in an earher chap- 
ter probably contains the matter of Oxford's early play of 
"Agamemnon and Ulysses." 

WiUiam Shakspere of Stratford was evidently not 
even the holder of the manuscript in this instance : and cer- 
tainly the expression "grand possessors" is worth attention. 
The point that matters, however, is that neither the author 
himself, nor the owners of the authentic manuscript, had 
anything to do with this particular publication. And as the 
same has been shown to be true of the author's relation to 
the other three issues of this period, all four, without ex- 
ception, give unmistakable support to the views we are now 
advocating. This, then, is the position. We have a flood 
of Shakespearean plays being published authentically right 
up to the year before the death of Edward de Vere, then 
a sudden stop, and nothing more published with any ap= 
pearance of proper authorization for nearly twenty years, 
although the reputed author was alive and active during 
twelve of these years. We have no hesitation in saying that 
the simple fact we have enunciated in our last sentence fur- 
nishes an argument it is hardly possible to strengthen fur- 

Decisive as may appear the fact we have just stated 
there remains one other consideration which brings us into 
still closer contact with the actual date of Ox- u-j^^^^^^^ 
ford's death. It will be sgen that on either 
the Stratfordian or the De Vere theory, the last play pub- 
lished with any appearance of proper authorization during 
Shakespeare's lifetime was "Hamlet." An examination 
of the facts connected with the printing of this play is there- 
fore of special importance. We have included it in the 
1597-1603 period because a quarto edition of it appeared 
in the last year of this period. The 1603 quarto edition. 


however, is described by Sir Sidney Lee as "a piratical and 
carelessly transcribed copy of Shakespeare's first darft of 
the play." In 1604 the Second Quarto edition, he tells 
us, was published "from a more complete and accurate 
manuscript." He further adds: 

"The concluding words of the title-page were intended 
to stamp its predecessor as surreptitious and unauthentic. 
But it is clear that the Second Quarto was not a perfect 
version of the play. A third version figured in the Folio 
of 1623. Here many passages not to be found in the quar- 
tos appeared for the first time, but a few others that appear 
in the quartos are omitted. The Folio text probably came 
nearest to the original manuscript." Now, with an inter- 
val of nearly twenty years between the second and third ver- 
sions of a play which had evidently been subjected to con- 
stant revision and development, whilst simple reprints of 
the second edition had appeared in the interval, what is the 
natural inference in view of the facts already pointed out? 
Simply that the author was removed by death whilst ac- 
tually engaged upon the particular play, at the time when 
the Second Quarto was published, namely 1604, the exact 
year of the death of Edward de Vere. We feel quite jus- 
tified in claiming that 'Shakespeare,' whoever he may have 
been, died in 1604 almost in the act of revising 'Hamlet,' 
just as at a later day Goethe died almost in the act of fin- 
ishing his greatest work 'Faust.' " 

Of the first Folio edition of "Shakespeare's" plays 

(1623) we shall again quote a passage from Sir Sidney 

^. „ ,. Lee, "John Heming and Henry Condell were 

First Folio. '. *^„ 't^ r , 1 • 

nommally responsible tor the venture, but it 

seems to have been suggested by a small syndicate of 
printers and publishers who undertook all pecuniary 
responsibility. . . . The dedication . . . was signed by 
Heming and Condell. . . . The same signatures were ap- 
pended to a succeeding address. ... In both addresses the 
actors made pretension to a larger responsibility for the 
enterprise than they really incurred." 


In a word, they were being employed as a blind, and 
their part was overdone. It is evident, at any rate, that 
the initiative did not come from the two actors. As, there- 
fore, they formed the only connecting link between the Strat- 
ford Shakspere and the publication of the plays, it is ob- 
vious that they had been brought into the business in order 
to throw a veil over others who did not wish to appear in 
it. The silence of William Shakspere's will respecting these 
important manuscripts has already received attention. 

The further fact that the plays now published for the 
first time were not from the curtailed play-actor's copies, 
such as had furnished the text of several pirated issues, but 
the full literary text; in some instances, as we have seen in 
the case of "Hamlet," even improved versions of plays 
that had already enjoyed a proper literary publication, has 
also been considered and ought to dispose completely of 
the claim that the collection had been brought together by 
actors from the stores of unspecified theatre managers, or 
fished up out of the lumber rooms behind the scenes. Such a 
view does not accord with common sense and would hardly 
have been credited in any other connection. The only 
feasible supposition is that the documents had been in the 
safe keeping of responsible people, and that the death seven 
years before of the man who had formerly served as a mask 
rendered necessary the "Heming and Condell" subterfuge, 
if the incognito was to be preserved. In a word, the re- 
sumption of authorized publication after being arrested 
for eighteen or nineteen years is marked by the same ele- 
ments of mysteriousness and secrecy, in which everything 
connecting the man and his work has been involved, and 

furnishes its own quota of evidence that the 

,,1111 1 r Shakspere's 

master s hand had been removed tor very retirement 

many years. deatl?''^'''''^*^ 

Not only does the time of the death of De 
Vere mark an arrest in the publication of "Shakespeare's" 
works, it also marks, according to orthodox authorities, 


some kind of a crisis in the affairs of William Shakspere. 
Charles and Mary Cowden Clarke, in the Life of Shakspere 
published along with their edition of the plays, date his re- 
tirement to Stratford in the year 1604 precisely. After 
pointing out that in 1605 he is described as "William Shak- 
spere, Gentleman, of Stratford-on-Avon," they continued: 
"Several things conduced to make him resolve upon ceasing 
to be an actor, and 1604 has generally been considered the. 
date when he did so." Several other writers, less well known, 
repeat this date; and works of reference, written for the 
most part some years ago, place his retirement in the same 
year: "There is no doubt he never meant to return to Lon- 
don, except for business visits, after 1604" (National En- 

This is probably the most exact and startling synchro- 
nism furnished by Stratfordians. We have elsewhere given 
reasons for our belief that his actual retirement from Lon- 
don was much earlier than this. The fact that this date 
has been chosen is evidence, however, that Shakespearean 
records are indicative of some crisis at this precise time. 
More recent authorities, finding it necessary probably to 
give a date more in accord with accepted ideas as to the 
writing of the plays, and the continuance of William Shak- 
spere's material interests in London, have added eight or 
nine years to this, during which time his forces are supposed 
to have been divided between Stratford and London, but 
during which period he has left no traces of domiciliation 
in London, and no "incidents." In either case the time of 
De Vere's death corresponds to the time assigned for Wil- 
liam Shakspere's retirement, partial or complete. The lat- 
ter's work in London was practically done, and he could no 
longer remain in constant contact with the old life without 
a danger that the part he had played as mask to a great 
genius should be detected. 

It is worth while noticing that William Shakspere's first 
purchases of property extended from the time of the first 


publication of th^ plays, in 1597, up to the year following 
De Vere's death, when, in 1605, he purchased "for £440 
of Ralph Hubbard an unexpired term" of -vvini m 
the lease of certain tithes; and another impor- Shakspere's 
tant purchase is recorded for 1613, the year 
following the death of the second Lady Oxford. Not 
much of this kind of transaction is recorded of the interval 
between the two events. The only one we have found was 
in 1 610, when he purchased some land adjacent to his es- 
tate. This, it will be observed, was in the year following 
the publication of "Pericles" and the Sonnets. His pur- 
chase in 1 6 13 of property in London for £140 was "his 
last investment in real estate." 

There is certainly a distinct suggestiveness worth con- 
sidering about this correspondence of dates, especially as 
it is reported that on one occasion he received a large sum 
of money (£1000, it is said) from the Earl of Southampton 
for the express purpose of buying property. However lu- 
crative theatre shareholding may have been, authorship, 
at any rate, was not then the road to affluence; whilst an 
actor, who seems not to have risen above playing the Ghost 
in "Hamlet," would hardly be in enjoyment of the plums 
of his profession. 

Whatever opinions may be formed of William Shak- 
spere on other grounds, we do not wish to suggest any re- 
proach for the part he took in assisting Ox- wilHam 
ford to hide his identification with the author- Shakspere's 
ship of the plays. The former's role in life ^°^^* 
was indeed a humble one from the standpoint of literature, 
and, in view of the glory he has enjoyed for so long, be- 
comes now somewhat ignominious. Nevertheless, whatever 
Inducements may have been held out to him he fulfilled his 
part loyally. His task was to assist a remarkable but un- 
fortunate man in the performance of a work, the value 
of which he himself could probably not have estimated; 
and though it will be the duty of Englishmen to see that 
the master is ultimately put in possession of the honours 


that have for so long been enjoyed by the man, it will be 
impossible ever totally to dissociate from the work and per- 
sonality of the great one, the figure and name of his helper. 
Such, at any rate, would be the desire of Oxford, if we may 
interpret it in the light of the principle of noblesse oblige 
that shines through the great Shakespearean dramas. We 
may even suppose that Oxford had some hand in defending 
William Shakspere from Greene's attack. Chettle's de- 
fence of him that he was "civil" and that '^divers of worship 
have reported his uprightness in dealing, which argues his 
honesty," is distinctly suggestive of some such intervention 
on the part of Oxford. The terms of the defence are un- 
doubtedly much more appropriate to a testimonial to a 
faithful servant than a tribute to the supreme genius of 
the age. 

That such a work of secrecy could not have been done 
without the loyal co-operation of others goes without say- 
ing. In order to maintain our thesis, how- 
helpers, ever, it is not necessary that we should solve 
the problem of who his associates were, or 
of how they went about their work. It is reasonable to 
suppose that Henry Wriothesley was one, and it is natural 
to conclude that the wife with whom he was living in evi- 
dent comfort was another. We may venture a guess, too, 
that his cousin, Horatio de Vere, the eminent soldier, may 
have been a third. 

We should imagine that Horatio de Vere was a man 
after Edward's own heart; and, although the former spent 
much of his life abroad, he was living in England in the 
years when the Shakespearean publication was resumed. 
(1608-9) and also when the 1623 Folio edition was pub- 
lished. The publication of the Sonnets in 1609 and the 
plays in 1623, many of which would otherwise have per- 
ished precisely as Oxford's plays are supposed to have done, 
may have been the final discharge of part of a solemn trust. 
The publication of the plays ought indeed to have taken 
place during the lifetime of William Shakspere, whose 


death probably created a perplexing situation for those en- 
trusted with their publication; a situation from which, as 
we have seen, they tried to escape by the "Heming and 
Condell" device. Horatio de Vere's absence from the 
country during the latter years of William Shakspere's life 
may account for the fatal delay. This, however, is merely 
interesting speculation and forms no essential part of the 

The part taken by Henry Wriothesley first in arranging 
for a performance of "Richard 11" in connection with 
the 1 60 1 insurrection, and then for a private performance 
of "Love's Labour's Lost," to entertain the 
new Queen in 1603, has already been men- 'v/riothesley. 
tioned. So that, although ten years had 
elapsed since Shakespeare began to dedicate poems to him, 
he was still not only deeply interested in, but actively occu- 
pied with, the doings of the so-called "Shakspere's com- 
pany," and the Shakespearean plays. In the autumn of 
1599, however, his theatrical interests were so pronounced 
as to provoke special remark: he is then reported to have 
been spending much of his time every day at the theatres. 
In view of the enterprising temperament he subsequently 
evinced, such a mode of spending his time is not likely to 
have arisen from mere idleness; it is much more likely to 
have been connected with some definite purpose. Now, the 
following year was the most important year in the history of 
Sheakspearean publication during the lifetime of either Ed- 
ward de Vere or William Shakspere. For in the one year 
1600 there were published or reprinted no less than six plays. 

1. Henry IV, part 2. 

2. Henry V (probably pirated, however). 

3. The Merchant of Venice (2 editions). 

4. A Midsummer Night's Dream (2 editions). 

5. Much Ado About Nothing. 

6. Titus Andronicus. 

In 1601 Southampton was imprisoned, and all puhlica- 


tion of proper literary versions of the plays stopped imme- 
diately; only the pirated actor's drafts of 
JJ'spensTon. "Hamlet" and "The Merry Wives of 
Windsor" appearing during his imprisonment. 
It looks as if, at that time, the complete issue of the plays 
had been decided upon and begun, and that Wriothesley's 
imprisonment had interfered with the plans. After 
his liberation it was immediately resumed with an author- 
ized version of "Hamlet." Then De Vere's death oc- 
curred, and all further authorized publication was suspended 
till 1622 and 1623. Meanwhile Southampton dropped 
William Shakspere, and took to other pursuits. It cannot 
be denied, therefore, that there is much to support the 
view that Henry Wriothesley acted as intermediary between 
the Earl of Oxford and those who were staging and pub- 
lishing the dramas. The fact that his step-father, Thomas 
Henneage, w^as Treasurer of the Chamber, and therefore 
responsible for the financial side of all the business, is not 
without significance. The special relationship between Ox- 
ford and Southampton, to be considered in connection with 
Shakespeare's Sonnets, gives to these matters a position of 
first Importance. 

After the events connected with Southampton's libera- 
tion, including, we are assured on the best authority, a ref- 
erence in one of Shakespeare's sonnets, Sir Sidney Lee in- 
forms us that "there is no trace of further relations be- 
tween" Southampton and William Shakspere. That is to 
say, the death of Edward de Vere is followed immediately 
by the loss of all traces of a personal connection between 
William Shakspere and the only contemporary whom the 
poet has directly associated with the issue of his works. 

With regard to De Vere's widow, the second Lady Ox- 
ford, we remark that she died in 161 2, whilst 16 13 is the 

_, , later date assigned by some authorities for 

The second , r 1 j 1 • r ttt-h- 

Lady the hnal and complete retirement or VVilliami 

^ °^ ■ Shakspere from the scene of London dramatic 

and literary life. The substantial fact upon which this con- 


elusion rests is that there is a record of his presence in Lon- 
don in that year, attending to business. Curiously enough 
this business had nothing to do with either dramatic or 
Hterary affairs, but wholly with the taking over of property: 
"his last investment in real estate." 

To these general posthumous considerations one re- 
mains to be added. The particular sonnet which, accord- 
ing to Sir Sidney Lee and other authorities, ^j^^ ^^^..^^ 
welcomed Southampton's liberation from pris- ^j^^|°^"^*^ 
on in 1603, is one of the last of the series; 
and "Sonnet cvii, apparently the last of the series, makes 
references to events that took place in 1603 — to Queen 
Elizabeth's death and the accession of James I." In a 
word, the death of Edward de Vere brought to a close the 
series of sonnets that "Shakespeare" had begun some twelve 
or fourteen years before. Then for five or six years these 
sonnets lay, without a single one being added to their num- 
ber, before the complete series was mysteriously given to 
the world by strangers (1609). And, although the Strat- 
ford man lived for yet other seven years, no further sonnets 
appeared from the pen of the greatest sonneteer that Eng- 
land has yet produced. 

No amount of harping upon a point like this can pos- 
sibly strengthen its significance; and the man who, view- 
ing it in conjunction with the other points urged in this chap- 
ter, does not believe that "Shakespeare" died at the same 
time as Edward de Vere would not be persuaded though 
one (and only one) rose from the dead. 

The following is a resume of the various Resume of 
points established in this chapter : chapter. 

1. The latest plays of Shakespeare, being finished by 
other hands, indicate that the dramatist had already passed 
away at the time to which they are allocated. 

2. The plays usually ascribed to the years immediately 
following Oxford's death, especially "Macbeth," furnish 
additional testimony that he was already dead, thus mak- 


ing the death of the dramatist synchronize with the death 
of Oxford. 

3. The printed issue of the plays came to a sudden stop 
at the time of Oxford's death, and the slight resumption 
of issues in 1608 and 1609 furnishes further corrobora- 
tion of the death of the dramatist. 

4. The manner of the publication of the Sonnets in 1609 
is strongly suggestive of the death of their author: the 
dedication seeming to testify directly to the fact. 

5. Nothing of an authentic character was newly pub- 
lished from the time of Oxford's death till 1622 and 1623; 
six and seven years respectively after the death of William 

6. The way in which the various issues of "Hamlet" 
appeared affords strong evidence that the author passed 
away in 1604, almost in the act of revising his greatest 

7. The manner of the publication of the First Folio edi- 
tion suggests that Heming and Condell were being used as 
a blind, by others who had special reasons for not being 
seen in the matter. 

8. The time of Oxford's death marks, acccording to 
orthodox authorities, a crisis and definite change in the 
circumstances of William Shakspere of Stratford, and his 
partial or complete withdrawal from the dramatic life of 

9. The time of Oxford's death marks the cessation of 
Henry Wriothesley's dealings with William Shakspere, and 
a pronounced change In his interests and pursuits. 

10. Finally, the death of Edward de Vere, Earl of Ox- 
ford, brings to a sudden and complete close the series of 
sonnets which "Shakespeare" had been penning during many 
preceding years. 

"Every fact in the universe," says one writer, "fits In 
with every other." To suppose that all the above consid- 
erations are merely fortuitous is to suggest that the very 


gods had conspired to make the death of "Shakespeare'' 
seem to synchronize with the death of the Earl of Oxford 
in 1604. In other words our theory seems to be sup- 
ported by nothing less than the principle of the universal 
harmony of truth. By way of comparison we therefore 
subjoin a list of the dates of the decease of the men whose 
names have at one time or another been brought into this 
problem, including the special name we have had the honour 
of introducing. 

Edward de Vere died 1604. 

Roger Manners, Earl of Rutland, died 1612. 

William Shakspere died 1616. 

Francis Bacon died 1626. 

Wm. Stanley, Sixth Earl of Derby, died 1640. 

On the other hand, we cannot find a record of the death 
of any other literary man occurring about the year 1604: 
the nearest being that of Lyly, which occurred in 1606. And 
of course he is quite out of the question in such a connec- 
tion. We have his own plays, and they furnish all the 

evidence needed. 

We thus bring to a close the series of chapters m which 
an approximate biographical sequence has been attempted, 
and thus conclude the longest, most difficult. Finishing a 
and most decisive part of the investigations dedsive 
we have undertaken. The necessities of ar- 
gumentation have frequently involved the sacrifice of chrono- 
logical order, and even the omission of interesting details. 
This must all be remedied when the biography of the real 
''Shakespeare" comes to be written. For the present our 
purpose has been, in accordance with the general plan of 
research, to proceed from the work, the personality, and 
the career of Edward de Vere, to the work of ''Shake- 
speare"; and, reviewing the chapters as a whole, we make 
bold to 'claim that the mass and character of the evidence 
they contain will, when duly weighed, ensure the universal 


recognition of the authorship we would now substitute for 
the old Stratfordian tradition. 

In displacing the Stratford Shakspere by the substitu- 
tion of Edward de Vere we, no doubt, deprive the thought 
of "Shakespeare" of one element of attractiveness. It has 
been pleasant to think of the great dramatist, after all his 
labours, enjoying the rest and quietness of his retirement 
in a countryside to which his heart had ever reverted 
amidst the glory and excitement of his London career. If 
we lose this suggestion of the idyllic in the close of a great 
career, we replace it, at any rate, by a vigorous conception 
of tragic and poetic realism. The picture of a great soul, 
misunderstood, almost an outcast from his own social 
sphere, with defects of nature, to all appearances one of 
life's colossal failures, toiling on incessantly at his great 
tasks, yet willing to pass from life's stage leaving no name 
behind him but a discredited one : at last dying, as it would 
seem, almost with the pen between his fingers, immense 
things accomplished, but not all he had set out to do : this, 
it seems, will have for the manhood of the England that 
"Shakespeare" most certainly loved, a power of inspiration 
far beyond anything contained in the conception we have 


Poetic Self-Revelation: The Sonnets 

"Shakespeare is the only biographer of Shakespeare, and 
even he can tell nothing except to the Shakespeare in us." 


The line of investigation pursued throughout the greater 
part of these pages has been to search for indirect and un- 
conscious self-expression on the part of Autobiog- 
"Shakespeare." Anything like deliberate and J^f/^ °^^^^^ 
complete direct self-disclosure is not to be ex- 
pected: otherwise there wouFd have been no problem for us 
to solve. There is, however, between the two a form of 
what may be called an intentional self-expression and self- 
revelation, which the writer might, or might not, hope would 
lead at last to definite self-disclosure. Seeing, then, that 
we have insisted throughout on the distinction between the 
poet and the dramatist, and that Edward de Vere began 
and ended as a poet; a lyric poet at the outset, and in his 
last years, as we believe, converting his dramas into poems: 
our first task must be to take whatever poetic self-revelation 
"Shakespeare" may have given of himself, and see to what 
extent it may be regarded as a work of self-disclosure on 
the part of Edward de Vere. Shakespeare's work of poetic 
self-expression is, of course, the Sonnets. The idea that 
these poems are fantastic dramatic inventions with mystic 
meanings we feel to be a violation of all normal probabili- 
ties and precedents. Accepting them, therefore, as auto- 
biographical, our next step must be to see how these poems, 
as a whole, stand related to the authorship theory we are 
now advancing. 



Several points of accord between Edward de Vere and 
the "Shakespeare" disclosed in the Sonnets have already re- 
ceived attention in the course of our argument; these we 
shall now recapitulate. 

1. It was from the Sonnets that we first of all deduced 
Shakespeare's personal attitude towards women: that cu- 
p rious combination of intense affectionateness 
references with want of faith. All the passionate ten- 
derness of his nature combined with mistrust 

runs through the set of sonnets addressed to the "dark 
lady" ; whilst his lack of faith finds an additional expres- 
sion in the sonnets addressed to the young man, who is 

"not acquainted 
With shifting change as is false woman's fashion." 

The same passionate affectionateness finds expression in 
Oxford's verse, whilst the passage just quoted from the Son- 
nets is the particular theme of the whole of the first poem 
of Oxford's we met with: that on "Women." 

2. The writer of the Sonnets, notwithstanding the 
philosophic vigour of the poems, confesses to having "gone 
here and there and made himself a motley to the view" ; 
which is strictly in accord with the "lightheadedness" and 
"eccentricity" that are attributed to Oxford, along with the 
high testimony that has been borne to the superiority of 
his powers both by contemporaries and modern writers — 
thus affording a contrast between his actual capacity and 
his external bearing which had not escaped the observation 
of Burleigh himself. 

3. The Sonnets bear unmistakable testimony to the fact 
that the writer was one whose brow was stamped with "vul- 
gar scandal"; whose good name had been lost, and who, 
at the time of writing the sonnets dealing with this theme, 
wished that his name should be buried with his body. That 
Edward de Vere was a man fallen Into disrepute Is the one 
fact about him that seems to have been grasped by those 
who are at all acquainted with him. That it was a matter 


upon which he felt sore, as Shakespeare did, Is shown by 
what Is probably one of the most powerful of his poems; 
one on "The Loss of his Good Name." 

4. Edward de Vere's loss, early In life, of home in- 
fluences, and his being brought up at court: possibly, too, 
the Bohemian life necessary to the fulfilment of his pur- 
poses as a dramatist, all contributed to produce the condi- 
tions under which his "name received a brand." 

This finds Its expression In Sonnet III, 

"O! for my sake do you with fortune chide, 
The guilty goddess of my harmful deeds, 

That did not better for my life provide 

Than public means which public manners breeds." 

5. That Shakespeare was one who was pursuing a vo- 
cation Involving, at the outset, concealment of materials 
from those with whom he was in direct social relationship 
is evident from Sonnet 48. 

"How careful was I when I took my way 
Each trifle under truest bars to thrust." 

This exactly fits In with the bearing of Oxford's early 
domestic relationships upon his dramatic and literary en- 

6. An allusion to Oxford's functions as Lord Great 
Chamberlain Is probably contained In Sonnet 125 begin- 

"Were't aught to me T bore the canopy?" 

7. As there is strong evidence to support our theory that 
Oxford was the man referred to by Spenser as "our pleas- 
ant Willie," we are able to connect with this theory the cryp- 
tic utterance of "Shakespeare" In the "Will" Sonnets: 

"For my name is Will." 

8. In our chapter on Posthumous Considerations we 
have shown that there Is good ground for believing that 


''our ever-living poet" was dead when the Sonnets were 
published in 1609: and the fact that, after being penned 
during many years, the series was brought to an abrupt close, 
as near as can be judged, just before the death of Edward 
de Vere. supports the contention that the writer of the Son- 
nets, whoever he was. died at the same time as Edward de 

Starting with these several points of accord, which in 
their combination certainly represent a remarkable set of 
coincidences, our next task must be to examine the general 
situation represented in the Sonnets, and see to what ex- 
tent this, along with the details just enumerated, combine 
and form a consistent unity, applicable to the person and 
circumstances of Edward de Vere. 

The first and most important set of sonnets is itself di- 
visible into sections, the opening section being a set of 
South- seventeen, the main burden of which is to urge 

"The°better ^^^ young man to whom they are addressed 
angel." to marry, in order to secure the continuance 

of his own aristocratic family and the rebirth of his own 
attractive personality' in his posterity'. 

"Then what could death do if thou shouldst depart, 
Leaving thee living in posterity?" 

"Thou stick'st not to conspire, 
Seeking that beauteous roof to ruinate 
Which to repair should be thy chief desire." 

"Who lets £0 fair a house fall to decay, 
Which husbandry in honour might uphold 
Against the stormy gusts of winter's day? 

You had a father: let your son say so." 

We are not told who the particular young man was; but 
the general assumption is that it was Henry Wriothesley, 
Earl of Southampton. This is not only a reasonable sup- 
position, but it would be unreasonable to suppose that it was 
any one else; for the following reasons: 
I. The personal description exactly fits. 


2. The personal situation also fits, for his father was 
dead, his mother was hving, he was the only surviving 
representative of his family, and efforts were being made 
to get him to marry: efforts which he was resisting. 

3. The poet addresses him in the same terms of strong 
affection as in the dedication to "Lucrece." 

4. Direct reference is made to the dedications. 

The fact of the young man's father being dead and his 
mother being still alive is made clear by the separate ref- 
erences to them: 

"You had a father: let your son say so" 


"Thou art thy mother's glass and she, in thee, 
Calls back the lovely April of her prime." 

Such references to Southampton's father and mother 
are quite befitting a writer who was old enough to have been 
the father of the youth, and who had been ^^^ 
on intimate terms with both parents; for Ox- countess of 
ford's former close association with the late ^^p\^'j^^ 
Earl is made quite clear in the State Papers 
dealing with the catholic troubles some ten years before. 
The reference to "the lovely April" of the Countess's 
"prime" was natural to one who remembered her in her 
early years; so that the youth, the deceased father, the 
Dowager Countess, and the writer, all assume a very in- 
telligible relation to one another and to the poems, as soon 
as we assume the Earl of Oxford to have been the writer. 

On the other hand it is well-nigh impossible to fit Wil- 
liam Shakspere of Stratford into the picture, and to think 
of him at the age of twenty-six speaking with such assur- 
artce of intimate knowledge of the Countess's "lovely 
prime." We may perhaps be excused for reminding the 
reader again that it was the Countess of Southampton who 
made the entry after date into the accounts of the Treasurer 
of the Chamber, of the only reference to Shakespeare that 
these accounts contain. In a letter written later to her son 


she makes what has always been regarded as a mysterious 
allusion to some one whom she speaks of as "Falstaff." 
This, again, will be interesting to those who may think with 
Mr. Frank Harris that Falstaff is "Shakespeare's" cari- 
cature of himself under particular aspects. We need not 
pretend, however, to explain Lady Southampton's part in 
these matters. 
Dedication ^^^ identity of the young man of the son- 

of nets with the one to whom the long poems 

"Lucrece " • • or 

were dedicated is further attested by sonnets 

8i and 82. 

"Your 7iame from hence immortal life shall have, 

Though I, once dead, to all the world must die. 
^ ^ ^ ^ 

Your monument shall be my gentle verse." 

As, then, the name of Southampton is the only one 
which the poet has associated with his verse, not even ex- 
cepting his own, it is difficult to see how the young man ad- 
dressed could be any other than he; especially as the com- 
panion sonnet proceeds, 

"I grant thou wert not married to my Muse, 
And therefore may'st, without attaint, o'erlook 
The dedicated words, which writers use 
Of their fair subject, blessing every book." 

In our conclusion that these Sonnets were addressed 
to Southampton, we have the full support of the great ma- 
jority of authorities on the subject. 

We desire to avoid as far as possible being drawn Into 

the entanglements of discussing the dedication prefaced to 

TIT T-r J Thorpe's edition of the Sonnets. Whether 
W. H. and '^ .... 

T. T. in the the letters W. H. are the transposed mitials 
Dedication. ^^ Henry Wriothesley or not, there are no 
traces of "our ever-living poet" attempting to give "im- 
mortality" to any other contemporary; and the man to 
whom the first of the Sonnets are addressed was certainlv 
the "begetter" of the first section in the sense of being their 


theme and inspiration. It is natural to suppose, therefore, 
that the "begetter" referred to in the dedication means the 
person to whom the particular sonnets are addressed. At 
the same time he was not the "only begetter" in this sense, 
since others of these poems are just as certainly addressed 
to a "dark lady." As, however, this dedication is without 
any "Shakespeare" authority it may have been penned by 
T. T. before he had read the whole series. At any rate, 
no conclusive argument can be drawn from a study of the 
initials alone. 

The only argument that really needs attention is to the 
effect that the use of the letters W. H. shows that, in the 
opinion of the writer of the dedication, Wriothesley was 
not the person to whom the Sonnets were addressed; that, 
if concealment was aimed at, the transposed initials device 
was too transparent to have been used: whilst if conceal- 
ment was not aimed at, the initials would have appeared 
in their right order. Decisive as this argument may appear, 
facts are unfortunately against it; for, in the publication of 
an important anthology of the time, "England's Helicon," 
which contains matter relevant to our present enquiry, 
though put aside for the time being, the editor appears as 
L. N., the transposed initials of Nicholas Ling, the pub- 
lisher of "Hamlet." W. H. may or may not therefore 
have referred to Henry Wriothesley; and, as we know 
nothing of the writer's authority, it evidently does not mat- 
ter whether they do or do not. In a word, the discussion 
is perfectly useless, but will probably for that reason con- 
tinue to exercise a strong fascination for "intellectuals." 

So much printer's ink has already been wasted over 
these initials that a little more will hardly matter. Seeing, 
then, that others have indulged in guesses about T. T., 
the favourite theory being that they refer to Thorpe the 
publisher, we may perhaps be permitted to point out that 
the name of the father of Oxford's widow was Thomas 
Trentham, and that if he were alive at the time when Ox- 
ford died, he would be the one to whom the widow would 


naturally turn for assistance In straightening out the af- 
fairs. Certainly her brother's name appears more than 
once in connection with the management of her son's estate. 
Fortunately the question is not likely to arise as to whether 
these initials are In their original or transposed order. 

Quite apart, however, from this discussion of the dedi- 
cation, there Is ample justification for the belief that the 
"better-angel" of the Sonnets was Henry Wriothesley, 
Third Earl of Southampton. 

Now, as to the man who wrote the sonnets: for this 
is really the most Important point. Throughout the whole 

rru „ r series he assumes the attitude of a matured 
The age of 

"our ever- ^ man addressing a youth. Indeed, In one of 
ivmg poe . ^1^^ other series he speaks of himself as being 
no "untutor'd youth," but that his "days are past the best." 
The following, from Sonnet 63, is unmistakable: — 

"Against my love shall be, as I am now, 
With Time's injurious hand crush'd and o'erworn; 
When hours have drain'd his blood and fill'd his brow 
With lines and wrinkles, etc." 

We may even detect an indication of his approximate 
age in the lines : 

"When forty winters shall besiege thy brow, 
And dig deep trenches in thy beauty's field." 

The next point is the date at which these particular 
sonnets were written. We find that the first sonnets of 
the first set are assigned generally to about the year 1590, 
when Oxford was just forty years of age. The dedication 
of "Venus" to Wriothesley is dated 1593; and as the son- 
net which seems to refer to it is number 83, 1590 may be 
accepted as a reasonable date for these seventeen opening 
sonnets. This, then, is the situation represented by the 
poems. About the year 1590 a matured man "With Time's 
Injurious hand crush'd and o'erworn," addressed to the 
youthful Earl of Southampton, then only about seventeen 


years of age, a number of sonnets urging upon him the 
question of matrimony, and putting in the specially aristo- 
cratic plea of maintaining the continuance of his family's 

In respect to these facts we shall first consider the Strat- 
fordian position. In the year 1590, William Shakspere, 
the son of a Stratford citizen, having 
become interested in theatres, and thereby Stratfordian 
acquainted with a young man just home ^ ^"^ ^ ^' 
from the university, and having himself by that time 
attained the patriarchal age of twenty-six, suddenly becomes 
greatly concerned about the continuance of the youth's aris- 
tocratic family, and writes a set of exquisite sonnets urging 
him to marry. He also assumes the bearing and tone of 
a man of large and even painful experience, "past his best," 
with chilled blood and wrinkled brow. We doubt whether 
a more ridiculous position ever provoked the hilarity of 
mankind. The position of Bacon in respect to this matter 
is only slightly better; for he, at that time, was still under 
thirty years of age, though, as one about the court, his ac- 
quaintance with Wriothesley would have been of longer 
duration and probably more intimate. 

Most amusing in connection with the question of the 
age of the poet is the theory that Roger Manners, Fifth 
Earl of Rutland, was the author of the sonnets. For in 
T590 Roger Manners was only fourteen years of age, and 
the entire series of Shakespeare's Sonnets was brought to a 
close before he had reached the age of twenty-seven. 

To get over the inherent absurdity of William 
Shakspere being the author of these poems, far fetched 
explanations of his attitude have had to « ^ 
be invented, and the personal contents of ampton and 
the sonnets either passed over as pure enigma, Oxford, 
or interpreted In some extravagant metaphorical sense. 
The substitution of De Vere for the Stratford man alters 
all this, and makes these verses really intelligible and ra- 
tional for the first time since they appeared — over three 


hundred years ago. In the year 1590 Edward de Vere was 
forty years of age. Behind him there lay a Hfe marked 
by vicissitudes in every way calculated to have given him 
a sense of age even beyond his forty years. He was a 
nobleman of the same high rank as Southampton and just 
a generation older. The question of the perpetuation of 
ancient aristocratic families was to him a matter of para- 
mount Interest; an interest intensified by disappointment, 
for although he had several daughters, that dominant de- 
sire of feudal aristocrats, a son, had been denied him.* His 
only son had died in infancy and he was at this time a wid- 
ower. The peculiar circumstances of the youth to whom 
the Sonnets were addressed were strikingly analogous to his 
own. Both had been left orphans and royal wards at an 
early age, both had been brought up under the same guar- 
dian, both had the same kind of literary tastes and interests, 
and later the young man followed exactly the same course 
as the elder had done as a patron of literature and the 

Then just at the time when these sonnets were being 

written urging Southampton to marry, he was actually 

being urged into a marriage with a daughter of the Earl 

. . . ^ of Oxford ; and this proposed marriage he 
An important . , . 

marriage was resisting, although his mother had 

proposal. sanctioned it, and the parties on the other 

side were anxious to bring it about. This furnishes the 
vital connection between the Earl of Southampton and the 
Earl of Oxford, to which allusion has been made in previous 
chapters. We shall therefore state the fact in the words 
of the eminent Stratfordlan authority to whom we are 
under such large obligations. 

"When he was seventeen Burleigh offered him a wife 
in the person of his granddaughter. Lady Elizabeth Vere, 
eldest daughter of his daughter Anne and of the Earl of 
Oxford. The Countess Southampton approved the match. 

* Note. — One authority says two sons. 


. . . Southampton declined to marry" (Life of Shake- 
speare — Sir Sidney Lee). 

Now with this fact in mind, and with a sense of all we 
have represented of the Earl of Oxford in these pages, let 
the reader turn again to the Sonnets, especially the first 
seventeen, and ponder them carefully. To have urged 
marriage as a general and indefinite proposition upon a 
youth of seventeen, with the single aim of securing posterity 
for the youth, would have had something fatuous about it. 
In connection with a definite project of marriage, from 
one who was personally interested in it, the appeal comes 
to have, at last, an explicable relationship to fact. 

This had evidently occurred to Judge Webb; for in his 

work on "The Shakespeare Mystery," he got so far as to 

attribute these sonnets to the particular , , 

^ Judge 

marriage proposal, and even to suggest Webb's 
the idea of their being written by some ^"PP°^ • 
one specially interested in the lady. How he managed to 
miss the obvious inference looks like another "Shakespeare 
mystery" in itself. The Judge surmises that as Bacon was 
nephew to the lady's grandfather, he might have felt suf- 
ficiently interested in the marriage proposal to have penned 
the Sonnets at this time. His Honour's Baconian leanings 
had evidently disturbed his juridical balance; for not only 
would a family connection like this be much too remote 
to call forth such enthusiasm, but, as we have already said, 
Bacon at the time of this marriage proposal was still under 
thirty years of age. 

Seeing that we have quoted a Baconian in support of the 
idea that the sonnets sprang from this particular marriage 

proposal, wc may mention the fact that Mrs. 

c. Ci. i.r J" ^ iU • Stratfordian 

btopes, as a Stratrordian, supports the view, support, 
and suggests that Shakspcre was urged to 
write the sonnets by some one v.ho was anxious to bring 
about the marriage. 

Xo man answering to the description which the writer 
of the Sonnets gives of himself could have had better rea- 


sons for the peculiar kind of interest expressed in the poems 
than the father of the lady. To find so reasonable a key, 
then, to a set of sonnets on so peculiar a theme is something 
in itself; and to find this key so directly connected with the 
very man whom we had selected as the probable author 
of the poems is almost disconcerting in its conclusiveness. 
The very obviousness of it all makes us pause. For the 
first time since they appeared we feel entitled to maintain 
these seventeen sonnets are raised above the absurd and 
enigmatical, and made into a perfectly simple and intelli- 
gible expression of a legitimate desire. The older man 
who was urging the young one to think of sons, a matter 
not likely to interest a youth of seventeen, was contemplat- 
ing his own possible posterity in the shape of grandsons. 

If, now, we turn from the external relationships repre- 
sented by the sonnets to the internal sentiments which they 
Sentiment express, though we may not be able to bring 

of the these yet within the bounds of what we should 

now consider normal, it is difficult to imagine 
any other circumstances under which the friendship of 
one man for another would fit in better with such ex- 
pressions. All that is necessary is to read through the 
biographies of these two men, as they appear in the Dic- 
tionary of National Biography. It will then be realized 
that in many of its leading features the life of the younger 
man is a reproduction of the life of the elder. It is difficult 
to resist the feeling that Wriothesley had made a hero of 
De Vere, and had attempted to model his life on that of 
his predecessor as royal ward. When to this striking corre- 
spondence in external circumstances and literary and other 
interests is added the intensely affectionate nature of the 
elder man, and his comparative isolation at the time, there 
exist certainly the most favourable conditions for such ex- 
pressions of attachment as the sonnets contain. 

With regard to the rate of the output of these sonnets, 
It would be absurd to reduce it to one of simple arithmetic. 


Even works of poetic genius have nevertheless some rela- 
tion to number and time. If, then, sonnet 82, which refers 

to the dedications of the poems, were written _ 

^ Proposal 

about the years i593-4> when the poems were rejected and 
pubHshed, we get an average of between 20 speareV* 

and '^o per year for the Initial rate of pro- interest 
. r . • . declines, 

ductlon. That brings the first 17, m which 

the writer is harping largely upon the one string of mar- 
riage, well within the year which corresponds, so far as 
can be judged, to the time when the marriage of Southamp- 
ton to De Vere's daughter was under consideration. Owing 
to Southampton's decided opposition the matter seems to 
have been dropped; and, on turning to the sonnets, we 
find that although the personal feelings of the writer for 
Southampton become more Intensely affectionate, concern 
for the young nobleman's posterity altogether disappears: 
for after these opening sonnets the question Is never again 
raised. The writer of the Sonnets, it would seem, cared 
more about this particular marriage than about Southamp- 
ton's posterity: a state of things which would have appeared 
strange by itself, but read in the light of Oxford's own 
personal Interest in the particular marriage proposal which 
fell through, it is, of course, quite intelligible. 

Before leaving the question of this marriage proposal, 
seeing that we have already introduced the names of two 
others who have been put forward as candidates for Shake- 
spearean honours. Bacon and Rutland, we may perhaps be 
excused for referring to the only other whose name, so far 
as we know, has been raised in this connection, namely Wil- 
liam Stanley, Sixth Earl of Derby. He was about the same 
age as Bacon, and as a matter of fact, actually married the 
very lady whom Southampton was urged to marry. So that, 
if our theory of the authorship is correct, Mr. Greenstreet 
in England and M. Lefranc in France, in putting forward 
the son-in-law of Oxford as the author, may be congratu- 
lated upon having come very close to the right man. 

It may be worth while pointing out that, from letters in 


the Hatfield Manuscripts, it appears that Oxford interested 

himself more in his daughter EHzabeth than 

X^L?^^^^ in either of the other two, and this marriage 
tneory. ' ^ 

with WiUiam Stanley, Earl of Derby, was a 
matter of very special concern to him. Seeing, then, that 
the Derby theory arose from the simple fact that in 1599 
the Earl of Derby had been occupied in "penning" plays, 
whilst nothing is known of his composing them, it is not an 
unreasonable supposition that, as husband to Oxford's 
favourite daughter, he may have been assisting his father- 
in-law in the actual penning of "Shakespeare's" plays. 

The other personal relationship with which these poems 
deal — "Shakespeare" and the "dark lady," whom he 
describes as the "worser spirit," and his "fe- 
J^^ male evil" — presents a problem not yet 

spirit" solved, and which may remain unsolved for 

mys ery. ^|j time. There is perhaps no particular rea- 

son why we should trouble about it except for the purpose 
of doing justice to the poet. One thing does, however, 
stand out clearly from the set of sonnets (beginning 127) 
namely, that to him it was a matter of the heart, of a most 
intense and sincere character, but to the lady a much more 
equivocal affair. Nothing but an overwhelming heart 
hunger could ever have induced any man of spirit to main- 
tain the attitude described. 

Mixed in with this shorter series we find that there are 

several sonnets w^hich do not belong to it as a special per- 

Tv,« or-^ooi^.. sonal series. Nor do those which belong 
ine crossing ^ ° 

of the two properly to the set appear to be all printed 

in the order in which they were written. If, 
however, we take those which refer to the "dark lady" 
episode in the wTiter's life, we find that just before the 
series is abruptly ended it touches upon matters dealt with 
In sonnets 40, 41, and 42 of the first series. In other words, 
the events dealt with in the second series (see 133-144) 
come to an end in the early part, possibly the second year, 
of the first series. This would bring us to the year before 


De Vere's second marriage. The events as a whole, then, 
would seem to belong to a period of about two years in the 
four years that he was a widower. The intolerable state 
of affairs which they disclose could not go on, and the 
words which Shakespeare puts into the mouth of Othello 
might be taken as an allusion to his own personal affairs. 

"Though that her jesses were my dear heart strings 
I'd whistle her off, and let her down the wind 
To play at Fortune." 

This is the passage which is exactly paralleled by De Vere 
in the lines: 

"Who would not scorn and shake them from the fist 
And let them fly, fair fools, which way they list." 

The sudden closing of the series is at any rate suggestive 
of such an action, and if we attribute words and action 
alike to the Earl of Oxford, his marriage, in the following 
year, would be in harmony with such an act of self-libera- 
tion from discreditable bonds. It is to be remarked, how- 
ever, that it is as "Shakespeare" not as Oxford that we get 
evidence of this regrettable alliance. In spite of the gen- 
eral accusations made against Oxford, no single definite 
and authenticated example is otherwise forthcoming. 

If, now, we take the whole of the short series as having 
been written about the same time as the first forty or fifty 
of the first series, we may resume the examina- 
tion of the first sonnets at this point with a J'etfronenl 
sense of their now forming an uninterrupted 
series, with no cross currents from the other set. 
From this point onwards neither the original theme 
of the young man's marriage, nor any allusion to the pain- 
ful episode common to the two series appears. What there 
is of a painful character arises from personal retrospect, 
reflection, or passing moods, rather than from contem- 
porary events; which is quite suggestive of a man whose 


stormiest outward experiences were over. This corresponds 
to the period when the Shakespeare dramas were being 
given forth, and when Oxford was, to all appearances, en- 
joying his retirement after his second marriage. 

A hitch in the friendship between the poet and the 
young man appears about the time of the dedication of 
the poems (sonnets 80-90), and the particular circum- 
stances that may have lain behind this and other references 
to passing events, would, of course, be known only to the 
parties involved. The important point is that all these ap- 
pear, if not explained, at any rate explicable for the first 
time, when we suppose them to be written by the somewhat 
lonely and mysterious nobleman, whose known experiences, 
joined to those which the sonnets reveal, represent him as 
one of the most pathetic and heroic figures in the tragic 
records of genius. 

As supplementary details we would suggest for con- 
sideration the following from sonnet 91. 

"Some glory in their birth, some in their skill, 

Some in their wealth, some in their body's force; 

Some in their garments, though new-fangled ill; 

Some in their hawks and hounds; some in their horse; 

And every humour hath his adjunct pleasure. 
* * * * 

All these I better in one general best, 
Thy love is better than high birth to me, 
Richer than wealth, prouder than garments' cost, 
Of more delight than hawks or horses be." 

From a man like William Shakspere such an expression 
would be so palpably a case of "sour grapes,*' that it Is 
Incredible that any poet of intelligence would make himself 
so ridiculous. From a man in Oxford's position, who had 
had all of these things, and who had no doubt gloried in 
them all in turn, the expression is lifted above the childish 
and placed in a reasonable relationship to facts. It is not 
too much to claim that every word of this sonnet bespeaks 
Edward de Vere as its author; for It gives us practically a 


symposium of the outstanding external facts of his life and 
his interests. Yet all these things, the advantages of birth, 
the fame for skill and "body's force," rich clothing, wealth, 
hawks, hounds and horses, he had proved himself capable 
of sacrificing to those interests that appealed to his spirit. 
In every particular, then, the contrast presented by sup- 
posing those sonnets to have been written by the Stratford 
man on the one hand or Edward de Vere on the other, 
leaves no doubt as to which of the two mankind would 
choose as the author if the decision had to rest on a con- 
sideration of the Sonnets alone. 

The Sonnets stand there for every one to read, and no 
arguments could have the same value as an intimate knowl- 
edge of the poems themselves viewed in the importance 
light of the actual facts of the Hfe and reputa- of the 
tion of Edward de Vere. Upon all who wish 
to arrive at the truth of the matter we urge the close and 
frequent reading of the Sonnets. It is not necessary to 
believe that all the first set were addressed to the youth or 
all the second set to the "dark lady." Nor is it necessary 
to solve the mystery of the dark lady: for it is not in the 
nature of things for such a man to pass away and leave 
no insoluble mysteries. Some of the Sonnets seem to have 
no personal bearing and others can hardly be made 
applicable to the two chief personalities. These things are 
immaterial. Neither is it necessary to penetrate all the 
disguises which "Shakespeare" himself, or his executors 
after him, may have thought right to adopt in respect to 
these effusions of sentiment and their objects. But we are 
unable to place ourselves in the position of a reader, who 
with the facts concerning Oxford that we have submitted, 
can become conversant with these Sonnets without realizing 
that they reflect at once the soul and the circumstances of 
"the best of the courtier poets of the early days of Queen 

In conclusion, we must add a word about the technique 


of the Sonnets. Shakespeare's rejection of the Petrarcan 
The inventor sonnet we hold to have been sound poetic 

of the judgment, based upon a true ear for the 

Shake- . , ,. . , . . ^ 

spearean musical qualities and acoustic properties or 

sonnet. ^.j^^ English language. The Petrarcan sonnet 

has grown out of the distinctive qualities of the language 
of Italy, and the attempt to impose its rhyme rules upon 
the English sonnet, involving so great a sacrifice of sense 
to sound, has gone far to produce the relative poverty of 
post-Shakespearean sonneteering. However this may be, 
the Shakespearean sonnet has its own distinctiveness, which 
bears upon our subject. 

The so-called "Shakespeare sonnet," we are told by 
William Sharp in his "Sonnets of this Century" (19th), 
possesses "a capability of impressiveness unsurpassed by 
any sonnet of Dante or Milton." He points out, however, 
that when Shakespeare used this form of sonnet in the last 
years of the sixteenth century, he was using a form "made 
thoroughly ready for his use by Daniel and Drayton." 
Now, as Daniel was twelve years, and Drayton thirteen 
years younger than Edward de Vere, and as the last named 
was publishing poetry at a relatively early age, it is clear 
that his early lyrics come before those of either of the other 
two men. 

Seeing, then, that we have a sonnet of Edward de Vere's 
which is obviously an early production, and that this is in 
what we now call the Shakespearean form, we are entitled 
to claim, on the above authority, that the actual founder 
of the Shakespearean sonnet was Edward de Vere: certainly 
a very important contribution to the evidence we have been 
accumulating. The Sonnets, therefore, which are funda- 
mentally a work of spiritual self-revelation, almost become 
a work of complete self-disclosure. In submitting the fol- 
lowing sonnet of Oxford's mainly on account of its form 
we would also point out its note of constancy: a theme upon 
which many of "Shakespeare's" Sonnets dwell. 


Sonnet by Edward de Vere 

Who taught thee first to sigh, alas! my heart? 

Who taught thy tongue the woeful words of plaint? 
Who filled your eyes with tears of bitter smart? 

Who gave thee grief and made thy joys to faint? 
Who first did paint with colours pale thy face? 

V/ho first did break thy sleeps of quiet rest? 
Above the rest in court who gave thee grace? 

Who made thee strive in honour to be best? 
In constant truth to bide so firm and sure, 

To scorn the world regarding but thy friends? 
With patient mind each passion to endure, 

In one desire to settle to the end? 
Love then thy choice wherein such choice thou bind 
As nought but death may ever change thy mind. 

This, then, may be regarded as the first "Shakespeare" 
sonnet. It is the only sonnet in the collection of Edward de 
Vere's poems, and it is composed in the r) f A' 
only form employed by Shakespeare, al- sonnet and 
though other sonneteers were then experi- omeo. 
menting upon other forms. It is obviously one of his 
earliest efforts, for it expresses an attitude towards woman 
only found in one other of his poems, "What Cunning Can 
Express?" — an attitude belonging to the unsullied ideals 
of his youth, which later on gave place to the cynicism or 
bitterness of the De Vere poem on "Women," and of what 
are now known as the "Shakespeare Sonnets." From the 
point of view of evidence of Oxford's identity with Shake- 
speare its chief value lies in its technique, which is most 
certainly Shakespearean. It does, however, furnish an- 
other link in the chain of evidence which is worth men- 

The first sonnets of "Shakespeare's" to appear were 
those in "Romeo and Juliet"; a play which has already fur- 
nished us with important connections between Edward de 
Vere's poetry and Shakespeare. Now, "Romeo and Juliet, 



not only first presents sonnets on this model, but it is the only 
play of Shakespeare's which expresses seriously the senti- 
ment of this sonnet of Edward de Vere's. Shakespeare's 
comedies treat the theme of man's love for woman in the 
spirit of comedy; and his great tragedies like "Othello" and 
"Antony and Cleopatra" give us the vigorous passions of 
matured men. "Romeo and Juliet" alone, of all the plays, 
gives us seriously the tender, gentle, idealistic love of young 
people. And, as we have already more than once pointed 
out, Juliet was just the age of Oxford's wife at the time of 
their marriage (about 14 years). 

With this sonnet of Oxford's in mind then, turn to 
"Romeo and Juliet," and look into the text of the play, 
especially the parts spoken by, or in reference to, Romeo 
himself, observing the allusions to sighings, floods of 
womanish tears, bitter griefs, broken sleep, pledges of con- 
stancy, and death. The youthful Romeo in the play is the 
young Earl of Oxford as he represents himself in the sonnet 
before us. 

So much from the point of view of evidence. We have, 
however, another purpose to achieve in this work: namely, 
to assist towards the formation of a correct estimate of 
Edward de Vere. We ask, therefore, for a careful weigh- 
ing of this particular poem and the spirit it reveals. Gentle, 
tender-hearted, supersensitive, idealistic, refined almost to 
the point of femininity; such is the young Earl of Oxford 
as he here reveals himself. And as in the light of such a 
revelation we review the various references to him in mod- 
ern books, we can only say, without attempting to fasten 
the full blame anywhere, that he was the victim of a most 
adverse fate: the many references to which throughout 
the sonnets stand now explained for the first time, making 
plain why a Shakespeare Problem, or a Shakespeare 
Mystery, has happened to have a place in the world's 

We conclude our examination of the sonnets with a 
sense of its being marked by the same feature as has mani- 


fested itself in every other section of our investigation: 
namely, that it is not merely in one or two strikmg pomts 
that the personality disclosed coincides with that of the 
Earl of Oxford; but that everything fits m, m a most 
extraordinary manner, the moment his personality is mtro- 
duced. There is surely only one explanation possible tor 
all this. 


Dramatic Self-revelation: Hamlet 

'*In Hamlet Shakespeare has revealed too much of him- 
self." Frank Harris. 

As the fame of Shakespeare rests chiefly upon his great 
achievements in drama, it is to these that the world is bound 
Shake- ^° ^^^^ ^^^ some special revelation of the 

speare's author himself. Such a revelation, however, 

contem- . j -n i • i • • / 

poraries in it must be expected, will be m keepmg with 

his plays. ^j^g character of his genius. Cryptograms 

and anagrams, though they may play a part, especially the 
latter, as being a recognized feature of the Hterature of the 
times, can only come in as supplementary to something 
greater: the real self-revelation being a dramatic one. 

The essential objectivity of Shakespeare's work, with 
its foundations fixed in observation, is assurance enough 
that his characters would be taken from his own experience 
of the men and women about him. Mere photographic re- 
production, of course, such a genius would not offer us; but 
actually living men and women, artistically modified and 
adjusted to fit them for the part they had to perform, are 
what we may be sure the plays contain. The fact that these 
have not been identified before now is no doubt due, in part, 
to such cunning disguises as we should naturally expect from 
a mind so profound and complex. The fact, too, that the 
active life of the reputed author does not fit in with either 
the time or circumstances of the active life of the actual 
author has also tended to prevent detection. Another ex- 
planation is that "Shakespeare" probably saw contemporary 
events and personalities from a standpoint totally different 



from that taken by Englishmen since his day. If, therefore, 
the substitution of a new personaHty, as author, furnishes 
a point of view which enables us to identify characters in 
the plays, it will form a very strong argument that the 
right man has been discovered. 

Such a faculty of observation as we notice in him, lead- 
ing him to fix his attention specially upon those whose lives 
pressed directly upon his own — inevitable in one so sensitive 
and self-conscious as the Sonnets reveal him — is certain to 
have made his work much more a record of his own per- 
sonal relationships than has hitherto been supposed. His 
special domain, moreover, being the study of the human 
soul, this faculty of observation must have compelled him 
to subject his own nature to a rigorous examination and 
analysis. Consequently, when the author is better known, 
it will doubtless be found that his works are packed with 
delineations and studies of his own spiritual experiences. 
The working out of this department of Shakespearean en- 
quiry belongs largely to the future. Something of this kind 
has, however, already been attempted in a desultory man- 
ner in these pages. Our present purpose is somewhat more 

The long accepted notion that the author has not given 
us a representation of himself in his plays breaks down com- 
pletely, as we have seen, under the view of 

• • • The 

authorship put forward in this work. Already dramatist 

attention has been drawn to the case of Lord \" ^^^ 


Berowne in "Love's Labour's Lost," and also 
to a most striking parallel between Edward de Vere and 
another of Shakespeare's characters, namely Bertram in 
"All's Well." 

Bertram, a young lord of ancient lineage, of which he 
is himself proud, having lost a father for whom he enter- 
tained a strong affection, is brought to court by his mother 
and there left as a royal ward, to be brought up under 
royal supervision. As he grows up he asks for military 
service and to be allowed to travel, but is repeatedly re- 


fused or put off. At last he goes away without permission. 
Before leaving he had been married to a young woman 
with whom he had been brought up, and who had herself 
been most active in bringing about the marriage. Matri- 
monial troubles, of which the outstanding feature is a re- 
fusal of cohabitation, are associated with both his stay 
abroad and his return home. Such is the summary of a 
story we have told in fragments elsewhere, and is as near 
to biography, or autobiography if our theory be accepted, 
as a dramatist ever permitted himself to go. The later 
discovery, which we have fortunately been able to incorpo- 
rate into this work before publication, that the central inci- 
dent of Bertram's matrimonial trouble has a place in the 
records of the Earl of Oxford, leaves no doubt as to his 
being the prototype of Bertram. Still it is conceivable that 
a contemporary dramatist, knowing De Vere's story, had 
utilized parts of it in writing the play; and, therefore, if 
viewed alone, is not entitled to be called a dramatic self- 

Properly speaking, it is the whole of the dramas that 
constitutes the full dramatic self-revelation. It is, there- 
fore, as we approach the highest triumphs of 
choice. ^^^ genius, which represent the whole, that 

his work becomes a special or synoptic self- 
revelation. This, however, pertains to the inward or 
spiritual hfe rather than to its external forms. If, then, to 
a spiritual correspondence there is added a marked agree- 
ment in external circumstances, as evidence of the personal 
Identity of the author, such dramatic work becomes specially 
convincing. The question, therefore, resolves Itself Into 
this: What play of Shakespeare's holds such pre-eminence 
that we are entitled to regard It as a work of special self- 
revelation, and how far do its Inner spiritual facts, and the 
outward forms In which they are clothed, warrant the as- 
sumption that they constitute a work of self-revelation on 
the part of Edward de Vere? 

On the first point, the choice of play, there Is fortunately 


no need for the exercise of our own individual judgment, 
nor any uncertainty as to the social verdict; for the world 
at large has long since proclaimed the play of "Hamlet" as 
the great tour de force of this master dramatist. The 
comedy of "Love's Labour's Lost" undoubtedly occupies a 
unique position amongst the lighter plays. It is usually ac- 
corded priority in time; it bears unmistakable evidence of 
the most painstaking labour; and It was the first to be 
published under the pseudonym of "Shakespeare." The 
correspondence of Its central figure, Berowne, with the Earl 
of Oxford has therefore a special value, particularly If 
taken as supplementary to the play of "Hamlet." 

The central figure in the latter play occupies, however, 
a most exceptional position In relation to the work in which 
he appears, and therefore stands out as the supreme dra- 
matic creation of the artist. "The play of 'Hamlet' with 
Hamlet left out" has become a proverbial expression for 
the very extreme of deprivation; and Sir Sidney Lee as- 
sures us that "the total length of Hamlet's speeches far 
exceeds that of those allotted by Shakespeare to any others 
of his characters." These, again, have so passed Into com- 
mon currency as to justify the well-worn joke about the play 
being "full of quotations." The play and the character of 
"Hamlet" may therefore be accepted as being In a peculiar 
sense the dramatic self-revelation of the author, if such a 
revelation exists anywhere. 

Great as Is the mass of printed matter which this par- 
ticular creation has already called forth, probably exceed- 
ing In amount what has been written •"-- 
about anv other literary work of similar J^^rnjet and 

. . . Destiny. 

dimensions outside the Bible, more is cer- 
tain to appear if we succeed in making good our chief 
claim. The burden of much that has appeared Is to the 
effect that in Hamlet the poet meant to give us the picture 
of a human soul struggling with Destiny. We venture to 
say that he meant nothing so philosophically abstract; but 
that what he was actually striving most consciously and 


earnestly to do, was to represent himself; and he, like every 
other human being born into this world who succeeds in 
keeping his soul alive, was indeed a soul struggling most 
tragically with Destiny; refusing to be swept along passively 
by the currents into which his life was plunged or to sur- 
render to the adverse forces within himself. This is cer- 
tainly the picture which stands out from that self-presenta- 
tion of the poet contained in his sonnets; and the fact that 
the character of Hamlet has been defined in terms that bring 
it into direct accord with that poetic self-revelation, is one 
more proof that the play is intended to be a special and 
direct dramatic self-revelation. It is this personal factor, 
doubtless, that has given to the drama that intense vitality 
and realism which makes its words and phrases grip the 
mind; becoming thus the instruments by which mankind at 
large have found new means of self-expression. 

It Is this fact of Hamlet representing the dramatist him- 
self which also makes him stand out from all Shakespeare's 
Hamlet is characters as an interpreter of the motives of 

"Shake- human actions. Into no other character has 

the author put an equal measure of his own 
distinctive powers of insight into human nature. Whilst 
other personages in the play are trying to penetrate his 
mystery, to discover his purposes and to read his mind, we 
find Hamlet confusing them all, and, meanwhile, reading 
them like an open book. 

"I set you up a glass 
Where you may see the inmost part of you," 

he says to his mother. 

All that quickness of the senses which marks alike the 
work of De Vere and Shakespeare manifests itself in the 
person of Hamlet. He misses nothing; and every thing he 
sees or hears opens some new avenue to the "inmost parts" 
of those about him. A man like this is almost foredoomed 
to a tragic loneliness; for even such a love as he shows 
towards Ophelia and she towards him cannot blind him to 


her want of honesty In her dealings. He sees much of 
which he may not speak. In the play he can express him- 
self In soliloquy or cunningly reveal to the audience what is 
hidden from the other personages In the drama; but in real 
life he would become a man of large mental reserves and 
an enforced secretiveness. Something of this Is certainly 
noticeable in the slight records we have of De Vere : a trait 
which even Burleigh found disconcerting. 

Having decided that "Hamlet" Is the play which, by 
Its pre-eminence, Is entitled to be regarded as "Shake- 
speare's" special work of self-delineation, the 
next part of our problem is to see whether the Hamlet^ ^^ 
revelation it contains has a marked and 
peculiar applicability to the case of Edward de Vere. In 
examining the work from this point of view It must be 
borne In mind that Shakespeare's plots are seldom pure in- 
ventions. The dramatist Is obliged, therefore, to conform 
In certain essentials to the original; and it is to what he 
works into this, and the special adaptations he makes, that 
we must look for his self-revelation, rather than to the 
central idea of the plot itself. Naturally, however, his own 
definite purposes must Influence his choice of plot: though 
it must also be borne In mind that self-disguise Is one of 
his purposes as well as self-expression. 

In testing the parallel we must substitute first of all the 
royal court of England for the royal court of Denmark. 
For Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, at the Dan- 
ish court we shall then have to substitute Ed- J^Jun^* 
ward. Earl of Oxford, at the court of Eng- 
land. Oxford, of course, was not a prince of royal blood: 
but then there were no princes of royal blood at the Eng- 
lish court, and the Earl of Oxford, in his younger days, was 
the nearest approach to a royal prince that the English 
court could boast. In the matter of ancient lineage and 
territorial establishment a descendant of Aubrey de Vere 
had nothing to fear In comparison with a descendant of 
Owen Tudor. And when it Is remembered that noblemen 


of Inferior standing to Oxford were, In those days, con- 
templating the possibility of sharing royal honours, either 
with Elizabeth or her possible successor, the Queen of Scot- 
land, for the dramatist to represent himself as a royal prince 
was no extravagant self-aggrandizement. With the sub- 
stitution we have recommended In mind, let the reader turn 
again to "Hamlet" and read the play with the attention 
fixed, not upon the plot, but upon the characterization. If 
he does not experience all the elation which comes with new 
Illumination, if he does not feel that every line of Hamlet's 
speeches pulsates with the heart and spirit of Oxford, either 
we have failed to represent accurately, or he has failed to 
appreciate, the character and circumstances of this remark- 
able and unfortunate nobleman. 

We shall endeavour to indicate elements of parallelism 
and coincidence between the two, but nothing can take the 
place of an attentive and discriminating reading of the play 
Itself. As, then, we have elsewhere urged that one of 
the most convincing proofs is to read the sonnets, so now 
we would also urge those who are interested to read Ham- 
let. Already, In tracing Illustrations of the life and circum- 
stances of De Vere In Shakespeare's works, we have fre- 
quently had to call attention to analogies with Hamlet, 
extending to details of private relationships. We may 
therefore shorten our present task by asking the reader to 
revert to those chapters dealing with the early and middle 
periods of Oxford's life. 

Following upon the consideration of his social rank 
comes the central fact of Hamlet's working out a secret 

purpose under a mask of eccentricity amount- 
eccentricity. ^^S almost to feigned madness. To have 

feigned complete madness would not have al- 
lowed him to accomplish his purpose, and therefore he as- 
sumes just sufficient insanity as Is necessary to bewilder those 
whom he wishes to circumvent, and who are trying to cir- 
cumvent him. It Is a match of wits in which the ablest 
mind wins by allowing his inferior antagonists to suppose 


him mentally deficient. Now the records we have of Ox- 
ford represent his eccentricity in his early and middle period 
as being of an extreme character, and if we suppose him to 
be Shakespeare, we can quite believe that his own secret 
purposes were being pursued partly under a mask of 

It is to be observed how frequently Hamlet employs 
this particular stratagem in resisting molestation, especially 
from those who are trying to penetrate his -d • 
secrets. This appears in his dealings with to 
Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, Polonius and 
Ophelia. Now this resistance to interference stands out 
clearly at the time when Oxford, having returned from 
abroad, is reported to have behaved in a strange manner 
towards Lady Oxford; for, in addition to the taciturnity 
which he adopted, and which one writer calls "sulkiness," 
he says, in the letter quoted in our "Othello" argument, 
"neither will he weary his life any more with such troubles 
and molestations as he has endured." Compare especially 
with the spirit expressed in this, the Interesting scene in 
which Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are trying to probe 
and "play upon" Hamlet (III. 2). "You would play upon 
me; you would seem to know my stops; you would pluck 
out the heart of my mystery; you would sound me from my 
lowest note to the top of my compass. 'S blood! do you 
think I am easier to be played on than a pipe? Though 
you can fret me, you cannot play upon me." 

That Hamlet is Shakespeare's representation of him- 
self receives confirmation from another characteristic 
which the latter shares with Oxford. That 
remarkable combination of tragedy with J'ragedy^ ^" 
comedy, In the ordinary sense of these words, 
which we find In Shakespeare attains Its highest develop- 
ment in the play of "Hamlet." The only possible competitor 
Is "The Merchant of Venice." In the latter we have a 
comedy which may at any moment resolve Itself Into an 
appalling tragedy. In "Hamlet" we have a tragedy which, 


at parts, runs perilously near comedy, and may at any mo- 
ment break up in absolute farce. Even in times of melan- 
choly and in the very thick of disaster the wit and subtle 
fun of the hero never desert him. Over his life there hangs 
a dark shadow. Impotence, failure and despondency dog 
his steps. Yet, when things are at their worst he turns 
rapidly upon his butts, teasing and confusing them with an 
evident enjoyment of the intellectual fun of the business. 
The play of "Hamlet," which may therefore, in this particu- 
lar, be taken as a compendium of "Shakespeare's" dramas 
as a whole, is unquestionably symptomatic of the general 
mental constitution and career of the Earl of Oxford. 

The social position and general character of the hero 
of this play having lent support to the theory that its 
Hamlet's author was Edward de Vere, we shall find ad- 

father and ditional and even more surprising corrobora- 

tion when w^e turn to the details of personal 
relationships. The driving force in the play of "Hamlet" 
is, of course, father-worship; the love and admiration of 
a son for a dead father who had borne himself in a manner 
worthy of his exalted station. Such affection and respect is 
the spontaneous source of ancestor-worship. Although, 
therefore, we are not told that father-worship was a marked 
trait in Edward de Vere, we have abundant justification 
for such an assumption, and might indeed infer it from the 
fact that ancestor-worship was a pronounced feature of his 

When, however, we turn to Hamlet's relationship to his 
surviving parent we are met with a totally different picture. 
Grief and disappointment at his mother's conduct lie at the 
root of all the tragedy of his life. With a capacity for 
intense affection, such as we have already pointed out in 
"Shakespeare" and in De Vere, Hamlet was incapable of 
any real trust in womanhood. His faith had been shattered 
by the inconstancy of his own mother. This curious com- 
bination of intense affectionateness with weakness of faith 



in women Is therefore characteristic of all three, "Shake- 
speare" (in his sonnets), Hamlet, and De Vere. 

It would not be fair to the memory of De Vere's mother 
to maintain, in the absence of positive proof, that she had 
furnished by her inconstancy a justification 
of her son's mistrust. We may, however, hismoth^n 
draw attention to facts that might account for 
it, even if they did not justify it. It has already been pointed 
out that in the short biography of De Vere, from which we 
have drawn so freely, no mention whatever is made of his 
mother, and one gets the impression that after his father's 
death she had almost dropped out of his life, the whole of 
the circumstances contrasting markedly with those recorded 
of Southampton and his mother. From the account given 
of De Vere's father, however, we learn that his widow died 
in 1568, Oxford being then only eighteen years of age; and 
that sometime in these early years of his life at the royal 
court, his mother had married Sir Charles (or Christopher) 
Tyrell. As, moreover, her death occurred at Castle Hed- 
ingham, one of the chief of the ancestral homes of the De 
Veres, it looks as though Oxford's stepfather had estab- 
lished himself on the family estates, and may have appeared 
to the youth as having doubly supplanted his father, first 
in his mother's affections and then In the hereditary domains. 
This, of course. Is the situation represented in Hamlet. 
Whether, in addition to the central fact, there had also been 
an unseemly brevity in the widowhood of Oxford's mother 
we cannot tell; for although the precise date of her death 
is given, the date of her second marriage is not. We have 
spent much time in the search for this date; so far without 
result. It will be interesting, therefore, to learn whether 
or not it was an "o'er hasty marriage," and whether as 
Hamlet Ironically remarked, 

"The funeral baked meats 
Did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables." 

Apart from this, however, there was sufficient In the - 
general situation to cut very deeply into the mind of an 


imaginative and supersensitive youth, and to have struck a 
severe blow at that poetic ideal of feminine constancy which 
was natural to his age and temperament. The important 
point for our present argument is that we have in Oxford 
the same moral trait that we have in Hamlet, that we have 
parallel external circumstances tending towards its produc- 
tion, and that these external circumstances are just such as 
might lead to all the tragic developments which succeeded 
in both instances. Faith in motherhood being the fount at 
which faith in womanhood may be revived when threatened 
by the failure of other relationships, the man who like 
Hamlet or Oxford lacks this faith to carry him through 
crises can have but a hopeless outlook on the most vital and 
fundamental of human relationships. 

The personal relationship in the play which bears most 

critically upon our present argument is that of Hamlet with 

Polonius and Ophelia. The chief minister 

Burleigh ^"^ ^^ ^^^ ^*^y^^ ^°"^^ ^^ Denmark is Polonius. 
The chief minister at the royal court of 
England was Burleigh. Is the character of Polonius 
such that we may identify him with Burleigh? Again 
it is not a question of whether Polonius is a correct 
representation of Burleigh, but whether he is a possible rep- 
resentation of the English minister from the special point of 
view of the Earl of Oxford. To what has already been 
said elsewhere in this connection, it will perhaps suffice to 
quote from Macaulay's essay on Burleigh: 

"To the last Burleigh was somewhat jocose; and some 
of his sportive sayings have been recorded by Bacon. They 
show much more shrewdness than generosity, and are in- 
deed neatly expressed reasons for exacting money rigorously 
and for keeping it carefully. It must, however, be ac- 
knowledged that he was rigorous and careful for the public 
advantage as well as for his own. To extol his moral 
character is absurd. It would be equally absurd to represent 
him as a corrupt, rapacious and bad-hearted man. He paid 


great attention to the interest of the state, and great atten- 
tion also to the interest of his own family." 

Hardly any one will deny that Macaulay's delineation 
of Burleigh is correct portraiture of Polonius; and, there- 
fore, if Burleigh appeared thus to Macaulay guj-ieigh's 
after two and a half centuries had done their character- 
purifying work on his memory, one can readily 
suppose his having presented a similar appearance to a con- 
temporary who had had no special reason to bless his 
memory. The resemblance becomes all the more remark- 
able if we add to this description the spying proclivities of 
Denmark's minister, the philosophic egoism he propounds 
under a gloss of morality, his opposition to his son's going 
abroad, and his references to his youthful love affair and 
to what he did "at the university." All these are strikingly 
characteristic of Burleigh and the most of them have al- 
ready been adequately dealt with. 

Probably the most conclusive evidence that Polonius 
is Burleigh is to be found in the best known lines which 
Shakespeare has put into the mouth of Den- 
mark's minister — the string of worldly-wise maxSS^^ 
maxims which he bestows upon his son 
Laertes (Act I. 3). They are much too well known to 
require repetition here. With these in mind, however, con- 
sider the maxims which Burleigh laid down for his favour- 
ite son, of which Burleigh's biographer (Martin A. S. 
Hume) remarks that though "these precepts inculcate mod- 
eration and virtue, here and there Cecil's own philosophy 
of life peeps out." He then gives examples: 

"Let thy hospitality be moderate." 

"Beware that thou spendest not more than three or four parts 
of thy revenue." 

"Beware of being surety for thy best friends; he that payeth 
another man's debts seeketh his own decay." 

"With thine equals be familiar yet respectful." 

"Trust not any man with thy life, credit, or estate." 

"Be sure to keep some great man for thy friend." 


The whole method, style, language and sentiment are 
reproduced so much to the life in Polonius's advice to 
Laertes that Shakespeare seems hardly to have exercised 
his own distinctive powers at all in composing the speech. 
The connection of the advice of Polonius with similar pre- 
cepts in Lyly's "Euphues" has long been recognized. What 
seems hitherto to have escaped notice is that both have a 
common source in Burleigh. How much of what appears 
in Lyly of these precepts was derived through Oxford it 
would be useless to discuss. The general relations of the 
two men has already been sufficiently considered. 

We take this opportunity of remarking, what may not 
be very material to our argument, that the spirit of the 
closing words of Polonius's speech, the words 
of Polonius. beginning, "Unto thine own self be true," 
seems to us to be generally quite misunder- 
stood. These words bring to a close a speech which, 
throughout, is a direct appeal in every word to mere self- 
interest. Is, then, this last passage framed in a nobler 
mould with a high moral purpose and an appeal to lofty 
sentiment? We think not. The bare terms in which the 
final exhortation is cast, stripped of all ethical inferences 
and reinterpretations, are as direct an appeal to self-interest 
as everything else in the speech. They are, "unto thine own 
self ; not unto the best that is in you, nor the worst. Con- 
sistently with his other injunctions he closes with one which 
summarizes all, the real bearing of which may perhaps be 
best appreciated by turning it into modern slang: "Be true 
to 'number one.' Make your own interests your guiding 
principle, and be faithful to it." 

This is quite in keeping with the cynical egoism of Bur- 
leigh's advice, "Beware of being surety for thy best 
friends"; but "keep some great man for 
So?aliz?ng'^ thy friend." And, of course, it does "fol- 
low as the night the day" that a man who 
directs his life on this egoistic principle cannot, truly 
speaking, be false to any man. A man cannot be false to 


another unless he owes him fidelity. If, therefore, a man 
only acknowledges fidelity to his own self, nothing that he 
can do can be a breach of fidelity to another. On this 
principle Burleigh was true to himself when he made use 
of the patronage of Somerset; he was still true to himself, 
not false to Somerset, when he drew up the articles of im- 
peachment against his former patron. Bacon was true to 
himself when he made use of the friendship of Essex; he 
was still true to himself, not false to Essex, when he used 
his powers to destroy his former friend. 

This philosophic opportunism was therefore a very real 
thing In the political life of those days. And the fact that 
Shakespeare puts it Into the mouth not of a moralist but of 
a politician, and, as we believe, into the mouth of one whom 
he intended to represent Burleigh, serves to justify both 
the very literal Interpretation we put upon these sentences, 
and the identification of Polonlus with Elizabeth's chief 
minister. Needless to say, one who like "Shakespeare" was 
Imbued with the best ideals of feudalism, with their altruistic 
conceptions of duty, social fidelity and devotion would never 
have put forward as an exalted sentiment any ethical con- 
ception resting upon a merely personal and individuaUst 
sanction. For this admiration of the moral basis of feudal- 
ism would enlighten him In a way which hardly anything 
else could, respecting the sophistry which lurks in every 
individualist or self-Interest system of ethics. 

The advice of Polonlus to Laertes is given just as the 
latter Is about to set out for Paris, and all the Instructions 
of the former to the spy Reynaldo have ref- i *. a 
erence to the conduct of Laertes in that city. Thomas 
The applicability of It all to Burleigh's eldest 
son Thomas Cecil, afterwards Earl of Exeter, and founder 
of the present house of Exeter, will be apparent to any 
one who wnll take the trouble to read G. Ravenscroft Den- 
nis's work on "The House of Cecil." 

The tendency towards irregularities, at which Ophelia 
hints In her parting words to her brother. Is strongly sug- 


gestive of Thomas Cecil's life in Paris; and all the enquiries 
which Polonius instructs the spy to make concerning Laertes 
are redolent of the private information which Burleigh was 
receiving, through some secret channel, of his son Thomas's 
life in the French capital. For he writes to his son's tutor, 
Windebank, that he "has a watchword sent him out of 
France that his son's being there shall serve him to little 
purpose, for that he spends his time in idleness." We are 
told that Thomas Cecil incurred his father's displeasure by 
his "slothfulness," "extravagance," "carelessness in dress," 
"inordinate love of unmeet plays, as dice and cards"; and 
that he learnt to dance and play at tennis. 

With these things in mind let the reader again go care- 
fully over the advice of Polonius to Laertes, and the 
former's instructions to Reynaldo. He will hardly escape, 
we believe, a sense of the identity of father and son, with 
Burleigh and his son Thomas Cecil. One point in Hamlet's 
relations with Laertes strikes one as peculiar: his sudden 
and quite unexpected expression of affection: 

"What is the reason that you use me thus? 
I loved you ever." 

Now the fact is that Thomas Cecil was one entirely out 
of touch with and in many ways quite antagonistic to Bur- 
leigh and his policy. In spite of his wildness in early life 
he is spoken of as "a brave and unaffected man of action, 
out of place in court, but with all the finest instincts of a 
soldier." He was also one of those who, along with Ox- 
ford, favoured the Queen's marriage with the Duke of 
Alengon, in direct opposition to the policy of Burleigh. 
Ophelia Thomas Cecil was an older man than Oxford, 

and Lady and they had much in common to form the 

Oxford. 1 • r a ^' 

basis or aitection. 

It is impossible therefore to resist the conclusion that 
Polonius is Burleigh, and that Thomas Cecil formed, in 
part at any rate, the model for Laertes. This being so, it fol- 
lows almost as conclusively, that Hamlet is Oxford. For, al- 


though Polonlus's daughter, Ophelia, was not actually Ham- 
let's wife, she represents that relationship In the play. The 
royal consent had been given to the marriage, and it was 
through no fault either of herself or her father that the 
union did not take place. Hamlet's bearing towards his 
would-be father-in-law is moreover strongly suggestive of 
Oxford's bearing towards his actual father-in-law. What 
points of resemblance may have existed between Ophelia 
and Lady Oxford it is impossible to say. We notice, how- 
ever, that the few words the Queen speaks respecting 
Ophelia harp on the idea of that sweetness which, we have 
noticed, Lady Oxford and Helena in "All's Well" had in 

"Sweets to the sweet: farewell! I thought thou should'st have 
been my Hamlet's wife . . . sweet maid." 

Something, too, of that mistrust and peculiar treatment 
which Hamlet extended to Ophelia has already been re- 
marked in Oxford's bearing towards his wife, along with 
suggestions of the ultimate growth of a similar affection. 

We have also observed that the only accusation which 
Oxford was willing to make against his wife was that she 
was allowing her parents to Interfere between herself and 
him. This is precisely the state of things to which Hamlet 
objects in Ophelia. He perceives that Polonius Is spying 
upon him with her connivance, and cunningly puts her to 
the test; whereon she lies to him. Llis reply Is an Intima- 
tion to her that he had detected the lie. 

Hamlet. Where is your father? 

Ophelia. At home, my lord. 

Hamlet. Let the doors be shut on him that he may play the 
fool nowhere but in 's own house. 

Hamlet's use of the double sense of the word "honest" 
in a question to Ophelia — the Identical word which In Its 
worse sense was thrust to the front by Burleigh respecting 
the rupture between Lord and Lady Oxford — is not with- 


out significance. Polonius, we take it, then, furnishes the 
key to the play of Hamlet. If Burleigh be Polonius, Oxford 
is Hamlet, and Hamlet we are entitled to say is "Shake- 

No feature of the parallelism between Hamlet and Ox- 
ford is more to the point than that of their common interest 

T. , r in the drama, and the form that their interest 

Patron of ' . 

drama and takes. Both are high-born patrons of com- 

panies of play-actors, showing an interest in 
the welfare of their players, sympathetic and instructive 
critics in the technical aspects of the craft. They are no 
mere passive supporters of the drama, but actually take a 
hand in modifying and adjusting the plays, composing pas- 
sages to be interpolated, and generally supervising all the 
activities of their companies. Not only in the play within 
the play, which forms so distinctive a feature of "Hamlet," 
but also before the period dealt wnth, it is evident that 
Hamlet had been so occupied. In all this he is a direct rep- 
resentation of the Earl of Oxford, and of no one else in an 
equal degree amongst the other lordly patrons of drama in 
Queen Elizabeth's reign. 

To fully elaborate the parallelism between Hamlet and 
Oxford would demand a rewriting of almost everything 
that is known of the latter, illustrated by the 
^. greater part of the text of the play. We shall 

therefore merely add to what has already 
been said several of the minor points. Hamlet expresses 
his musical feeling and even suggests musical skill in the 
"recorder" scene (III. 2). In the same scene he shows 
his interest in Italy. The duelling in which he takes part 
also has its counterpart in the life of Oxford, and even 
the tragic fate of Polonius at the hand of Hamlet is a re- 
minder of the unfortunate death of one of Burleigh's ser- 
vants at the hands of Oxford. Hamlet's desire to travel 
had to yield to the opposition of his mother and stepfather. 
His unrealized ambitions for a military vocation are In- 
dicated In the final scene, and his actual participation in a 


sea-fight is duly recorded. The death and burial of Ophelia 
at the time of Hamlet's sea episode is elsewhere shown to 
be analogous to Lady Oxford's death about the same time 
as De Vere's sea experiences. Suggestions of a correspond- 
ence between minor characters in the play and people with 
whom Oxford had to do can easily be detected. Rosen- 
crantz, for example, might well be taken for Oxford's rep- 
resentation of Sir Walter Raleigh, "the sanctimonious 
pirate who went to sea with the ten commandments" — less 
one of them. If we are right in this guess we have a most 
subtle touch in Act III, scene 2. Hamlet instead of saying 
"By these hands," in speaking to Rosencrantz, coins an ex- 
pression from the Catechism and calls his hands his "pickers 
and stealers," thus indicating most ingeniously the combina- 
tion of piracy with the religiosity of Raleigh. Hamlet's 
next ironical remark that he himself "lacks advancement'* 
helps to bear out the identification we suggest. 

That the dramatist had some definite personality in 
mind for the character of Horatio hardly admits of doubt. 
The curious way in which he puts expressions 
into the mouth of Hamlet describing this per- 
sonality, without allowing Horatio any part in the play 
which would dramatically unfold his distinctive qualities, 
marks the description as a purely personal tribute to some 
living man. Here, however, it is the very exactness of the 
correspondence of the prototype, even to the detail of his 
actual name, that makes us suspect the accuracy of the 
identification we propose. For the introduction into the play 
of Oxford's own cousin. Sir Horace de Vere (or, as the 
older records give it, Horatio de Vere) seems only ex- 
plicable upon the assumption that the dramatist was then 
meditating — just before his death — coming forward to 
claim in his own name the honours which he had won by 
his work; or, at any rate, that he had decided that these 
honours should be claimed on his behalf immediately after 
his death, and that Horatio de Vere had been entrusted with 
the responsibility. Such an assumption has full warrant 


In the last words which Hamlet addresses to Horatio. Cer- 
tainly the agreement is of a most surprising character and 
must not be neglected. 

Sir Horace Vere {as he is also named) had followed 
the vocation which had been denied the Earl of Oxford, 
and in becoming the foremost soldier of his day, and chief 
of the "Fighting Veres," had maintained the military tra- 
ditions of the family. This was the kind of glory which 
Edward de Vere had desired to win: an ambition which 
has left distinct marks In the Shakespearean dramas. The 
passage In which Hamlet describes the character of Horatio 
ought therefore to be compared with what Fuller says of 
Horatio de Vere. 

Hamlet to Horatio: — 

"Since my dear soul was mistress of her choice, 
And could of men distinguish, her election 
Hath seal'd thee for herself; for thou hast been 
As one, in suffering all, that suffers nothing, 
A man that Fortune's buffets and rewards 
Hast ta'en with equal thanks; and bless'd are those 
Whose blood and judgment are so well commingled 
That they are not a pipe for fortune's finger 
To sound what stop she please. Give me that man 
That is not passion's slave, and I will wear him 
In my heart's core, ay, in my heart of heart, 
As I do thee." 

Fuller's Worthies, 

Horatio de Vere had "more meekness and as much 
valour as his brother (Francis). As for his temper it was 
true of him what is said of the Caspian Sea, that it doth 
never ebb nor flow, observing a constant tenor neither elated 
nor depressed, . . . returning from a victory (in) silence 
. . . In retreat (with) cheerfulness of spirit." 

Sir Horace Vere was therefore noted amongst his con- 
temporaries for the possession of just such a character and 
temperament as Hamlet has ascribed to Horatio, In terms 
that have become classic. And as Horatio was the man 
selected by Hamlet to "tell his story," the theory we put 






forward, that ''Shakespeare" had instructed his cousin 
Horatio de Vere to "report him and his cause aright to 
the unsatisfied," is not without very substantial grounds. 

The rehgious situation represented in "Hamlet" Is 
peadiar. Though Hamlet himself and his father show dis- 
tinct traces of Catholicism, we do not find him 
in contact with the institutions and ministra- his"times" 
tions of Catholicism, such as are represented 
in "Measure for Measure" and "Romeo and Juliet"; nor 
do we find the other characters in the play exhibiting the 
same point of view. Even Hamlet's most intimate friend, 
Horatio, evidently differs from him in religious outlook. 
Hamlet's position, therefore. Is very similar to that which 
an English nobleman of Catholic leanings would occupy In 
court circles In the days of Queen Elizabeth. On the other 
hand, Hamlet is not a Catholic of the saintly type. His 
frankness with regard to his shortcomings is as clear and 
genuine as that shown by "Shakespeare" in the Sonnets. 
Hamlet confesses "I could accuse me of such things that 
it were better my mother had not borne me," just as "Shake- 
speare" confesses in his sonnets. 

". . . you in me can nothing worthy prove. 
Unless you would devise some virtuous lie, 
To do more for me than mine own desert, 
And hang more praise upon deceased I 

That niggard truth would willingly impart. 

* * * * 

For I am ashamed by that which I bring forth." 

The appllcabihty of all this to Edward de Vere, so far 
as the records of him are concerned, is, unhappily, one 
point over which hangs no shadow of doubt and from 
which no dispute is likely to arise. 

Nor Is the religious faith of Hamlet of the steadfast 
orthodox kind. His soliloquies reveal a mind 
that had been touched by the kind of scepticism uncertainty, 
that was becoming pronounced in the literary 
and dramatic circles of the latter half of Queen Eliza- 


beth's reign. This again is representative of the mind 
of Shakespeare as shown by the plays as a whole : for the 
attenuated Catholicism they contain could hardly have come 
from the pen of one of the faithful. All this, too, is in ac- 
cord with the shadowy indications that are given of Ox- 
ford's dealings with religion: his profession of Catholicism 
at one time, the accusation of atheism against him at an- 
other. Hamlet's cry, therefore, that "the time is out of 
joint," points to something deeper than his personal mis- 
fortunes and the tragedy of his private life. They are 
much more like the outburst of a writer, himself suffering 
from a keen sense of the unsatisfactory character of his 
whole social environment: one out of rapport with the age 
in which he lived; an age of social and spiritual disruption 
incapable of satisfying either his ideals of social order or 
the poet's need of a full, rich and harmonious spiritual 
life. All this personal dissatisfaction that the poet 
expresses through Hamlet is quite what was to be ex- 
pected from one placed as was Edward de Vere in his re- 
lations to the men and movements of his day. 

The aversion which Hamlet shows tow^ards politicians, 
lawyers, and land-buyers has no real connection with the 

Social and P^°^ °^ ^^^ drama ; it is evidently then an ex- 

political pression of the author's personal feelings 

towards the times in which he lived: to w^hat 
he calls "the fatness of those pursy times" — times which 
were glorying in being no longer "priest-ridden," but which, 
he perceived, had only exchanged masters, and were be- 
coming politician-ridden, lawyer-ridden and money-ridden. 
These were indeed precisely the middle class forces which 
were rising into power upon the ruins of that very feudalism 
which "Shakespeare," on the one hand, delineates, and Ed- 
ward de Vere, on the other hand, personally represents. In 
this again we see Hamlet, "Shakespeare" and Edward de 
Vere are entirely at one in relation to the times in which 
the play was written. 

Hamlet laments in relation to his time "O, cursed spite 


that ever I was born to set it right." And yet the setting 
right has not been achieved though three centuries have 
passed away since "Shakespeare" penned this lament. Still, 
if the new order for which the "prophetic soul" of "Shake- 
speare" looked is to arise at last through a reinterpretation 
and application to modern problems, of social principles 
which existed in germ in medievalism, then, "Shakespeare," 
in helping to preserve the best ideals of feudalism, will 
have been a most potent factor in the solution of those social 
problems which in our day are assuming threatening pro- 
portions throughout the civilized world. The feudal ideal 
which we once more emphasize is that of noblesse oblige; 
the devotion of the strong to the weak; the principle that 
all power of one man over his fellows, whether it rests upon 
a political or industrial basis, can only possess an enduring 
sanction so long as superiors discharge faithfully their 
duties to inferiors. In this task of "putting right," Hamlet 
or "Shakespeare," who we beheve was Edward de Vere, 
through the silent spiritual influences which have spread 
from his dramas, will probably have contributed as much 
as any other single force. 

Not as an important part of our argument, but as 
strengthening the feeling of a connection between the play 

of Hamlet and events in England at the time ^ ^. . ^ 
, , . , r 1 •^- c Political 

when It appeared, the rising of the citizens ot events. 

Elsinor with the cry "Laertes shall be king," 
is suggestive of the rising in London under Essex, though 
it must not be omitted that Thomas Cecil, who in some 
respects resembles Laertes, was chiefly instrumental in 
putting down the Essex rebellion. Again the change, not 
only in the occupants of the throne but also of dynasties in 
Denmark, "the election lighting on Fortinbras," from the 
neighbouring country of Poland, is suggestive of a similar 
change in England when, consequent upon the royal nomina- 
tion, England received the first of a new dynasty from the 
neighbouring country of Scotland. In this case Fortinbras 


would be James I, and Oxford's officiating at the coronation 
might appear as an equivalent to Hamlet's dying vote, "He 
has my dying voice." 

For Oxford would probably be of those who expected 
from the son of Mary, Queen of Scots, more sympathy 
with what his mother represented than James actually 
showed. A comparison of the different editions of "Ham- 
let" in respect to these political matters might disclose in- 
teresting particulars. 

In view of all that is known of Edward de Vere, and 
of "Shakespeare" as revealed in the Sonnets, no other 
words contained in the great dramas surpass, 
dying \p%al. either in significance in relation to our prob- 
lem, or in power of moving appeal, than the 
parting words which Hamlet addresses to Horatio. The 
more they are dwelt upon the less appropriate do they ap- 
pear to the fictitious Hamlet, and the more do they sound 
like a real heart-wrung cry from the dramatist himself for 
reparation and for justice to his memory. Put Edward de 
Vere quite out of the question; remember only that "Shake- 
speare," in sonnets written years before the drama, had 
spoken of himself as a man living under a cloud of disrepute 
beyond anything he had merited, desiring for himself noth- 
ing more than to pass from life's scene in such a way that 
his name would drop from the memory of man, then read 
the dying words of Hamlet : 

"Had I but time as this fell sergeant, death, 
Is strict in his arrest, O, I could tell you, — 
But let it be. Horatio, I am dead; 
Thou livest; report me and my cause aright 
To the unsatisfied. 

O good Horatio, what a wounded name 
Things standing thus unknown, shall live behind me! 
If ever thou did'st hold me in thy heart. 
Absent thee from felicity awhile. 
And in this harsh world draw thy breath in pain, 
To tell my story. . . . 

. . . The rest is silence." 


If, therefore, Hamlet may be regarded as an indirect 
dramatic self-revelation of Shakespeare, so evidently do 
these dying words link themselves on to 
explicit statements in his direct poetic self- demarfded? 
revelation, that they may be accepted, with- 
out in any way straining a point, as a dying appeal of 
'^Shakespeare," whoever he may have been, that his true 
story should be told and his name cleared of the blemishes 
that "vulgar scandal" had stamped upon It. The change of 
attitude was justified by what he had accomplished In the 
Interval. His was no longer the record of a wasted genius. 
Sitting apparently "in idle cell," he had achieved something 
which altered the whole aspect of his title to honour. He 
had created, and offered as an atonement for any short- 
comings of which he had been guilty — and who, indeed, 
has not? — the most magnificent achievement that English 
literature can boast; one of the three greatest achievements 
in the literature of the world. It Is Impossible to resist the 
conviction, then, that these dying words of Hamlet's were 
intended for some friend of "Shakespeare's," who, from 
some cause or other, has fallen short In the discharge of the 
trust with which he was honoured; though the publishing 
of the sonnets, and of the folio editions of Shakespeare, may 
have been a partial discharge of this trust. 

Although these things are applicable to any "Shake- 
speare," and any man to whom they will not apply is, ipso 
facto, excluded, it would appear, from all claim or title in 
the matter, it Is to Edward de Vere alone, so far as we can 
discover, that they can be made to apply fully and directly. 
When, then, we find that this particular play, although ap- 
pearing unauthentlcally in a curtailed form the previous 
year, was published, much as we have it now. In the year of 
his death, and then, although no further revision appeared 
for eighteen years, an edition appeared containing altera- 
tions upon which he had evidently been engaged at the time 
of his death, we can read In these closing passages of the 


play nothing less than a final call for justice and for the 
honour he had merited by his work. 

For three hundred years actors have uttered and audi- 
ences have listened to these tragic and pathetic pas- 
sages, never dreaming that they came out 
task?*"^^ of the inmost soul and the bitter expe- 

riences of the writer. Their deep personal 
significance we claim to be making known now for the first 
time; and we trust that our own imperfectly accomplished 
labours may achieve something towards winning that 
redress for which our great dramatist has so dramatically 

The whole story of his life, as he may have wished it 
to be told, will probably never be known. To reinterpret 
the known facts by the light of the Shakespearean litera- 
ture, in which work we have made the first essay, will doubt- 
less yield larger and truer results when others have taken 
up the task. There is also the possibility that new data 
may be unearthed, and this, together with the gathering 
together and unifying of facts scattered through the diverse 
records of other men, may bring to light the things "stand- 
ing yet unknown" which were in his mind. The greatest 
of the facts "standing thus unknown" is that which is now 
announced, and its substantiation will go further towards 
healing his "wounded name" than any other single fact that 
may In future be laid bare. 

On a review of the contents of this chapter, it will 
hardly be denied that the number of the particulars, and 
the general unity of the plan, w^hich bring the greatest 
"Shakespeare" masterpiece into accord with the life and 
personality of the man whom we selected, on quite other 
grounds, as the probable author of the play, Is not the least 
remarkable of the series of correspondences that have ap- 
peared at every step of our investigations. 


Chronological Summary of Edward de Verb and 


The biographical parts of this work are not intended in any 
sense as a biography of Oxford, nor as an adequate repre- 
sentation either of himself or of the different people whose 
lives were mixed with his. Everything is treated from the 
point of view of the main argument, which is concerned 
primarily with the identification of the author of Shake- 
speare's plays and in a secondary way with the correction 
of a false and incomplete conception of the Earl of Oxford 
that has become established. In the statement of our argu- 
ment we have been able to preserve only a very general 
adhesion to chronological order. Events that may have 
been separated by many years have sometimes had to be 
stated together owing to their relation to some specific pomt 
of evidence. A certain amount of overlapping of the periods 
and much repetition of facts have therefore been unavoid- 
able. As a necessary corrective we now offer the following 
summarized statement of events in the order in which they 

Early Period. 

1550. Birth of Edward de Vere, Seventeenth Earl of 
Oxford (April 2nd). 

1556. Birth of Anne Cecil (December 5th). 

1558. Accession of Queen Elizabeth. 

1562. Death of Oxford's father: Oxford becomes a royal 
ward and an inmate of Cecil's house in The 
Strand. Arthur Golding (his uncle), translator 
of Ovid, becomes his private tutor. 



1568. Oxford's mother died (having previously married 

Sir Charles — or Christopher — Tyrell. Date of 
marriage unknown). 

1569. Oxford seeks military service and is refused. 
1 57 1. Cecil becomes Lord Burleigh. 

Oxford comes of age : marries Anne Cecil. 

1573. Arthur Golding enrolled in "Inner Temple Rec- 

Hatton writes to Queen Elizabeth of Oxford (as 

''the boar"). 
"Oxford's men" indulge in wild escapade suggestive 

of Prince Hal and his men on the identical road 

(between Gravesend and Rochester). 
Oxford asks for naval employment and is refused. 
Oxford has apartments in the Savoy: a literary 


1574. Oxford runs away to the continent and is brought 


1575. Oxford visits Italy: Milan, Venice, and Padua. 

(Particulars suggestive of "Taming of the 
Shrew" and "The Merchant of Venice"). 

1576. Returns via Paris. Writes from Paris particulars 

suggestive of "Othello." 
Temporary estrangement from Lady Oxford. 
Remarkable episode recorded in Wright's History 

of Essex identifying Oxford with Bertram in 

^'All's Well." 

Middle Period. 

1576. Begins Bohemian association with literary men and 

1576-8. Publication of many early lyrics. 

Letter to Bedingfield. 

Rivalry with Philip Sidney. 
1579. Oxford's quarrel with Sidney. 

Publication of Edmund Spenser's "Shepherd's Cal- 



ender" containing probable reference to Oxford's 
rivalry with Sidney: "Willie and Perigot." 

1580. Anthony Munday, playwright and theatre manager, 
discloses that he is the servant of the Earl of 
Oxford. Monday's plays contain passages not 
written by himself: passages which "might have 
rested in the mind of Shakespeare." 

1580-4. Oxford's company (The Oxford Boys) tour in 
the provinces. 
Lyly, Oxford's private secretary, entrusted with 
their management. 

1584. Oxford's company visits Stratford-on-Avon. 

1584-7. The "Oxford Boys" estabhshed in London. They 
perform plays written by Oxford. 
Oxford Boys perform "Agamemnon and Ulysses." 

1586. Trial of Mary Queen of Scots — Oxford takes part. 
Death of Sir Philip Sidney. 

1587. Mary executed. 
Sidney's funeral. 

1588. Death of Lady Oxford. 

The Earl of Oxford takes part in the sea-fight 

against the Spanish Armada. 
Oxford begins his life of privacy and retirement. 

Final Period. 

1590. Spenser publishes "Teares of the Muses" with 
probable reference to Oxford (as Willie) "sitting 
in idle cell." 
Beginning of William Shakspere's career. 
Supposed date of first sonnets. 

Proposed marriage of De Vere's daughter, Eliza- 
beth, to Henry Wriotheslcy, Earl of Southamp- 
ton, to which proposal the first of the sonnets 
have been attributed. 
1 59 1 or 2. Oxford's second marriage (complete retire- 
1592-1601. Great Blank in Oxford's record. 


1592. Date assigned to "Love's Labour's Lost" (con- 

taining representations of contemporary men) . 

1593. Birth of Oxford's son Henry (Feb. 24th). 
Dedication of "Venus" to Southampton. 

1594. Dedication of "Lucrece" to Southampton. 

1 597-1 604. Great period of Shakespearean pubHcation. 

1597. The great issue of Shakespeare's plays begins. 

1598. The name "Shakespeare" first printed on the 


1600. Rush of Shakespearean publications (6 in the 


1 60 1. Rising under the Earl of Essex. 

1 60 1. The Earl of Oxford emerges from his retirement 

to take part in the trial of the Earls of Essex and 

1602. Date assigned to "Hamlet." 

A notable gap: Southampton in The Tower; Blank 
in accounts of the Treasurer of the Chamber. 

Oxford's servants play at the "Boar's Head" 

Pirated edition of "Merry Wives" published. 

1603. "Hamlet" unauthentically pubhshed. 

Death of Queen Elizabeth — no tribute from "Shake- 
speare" or Oxford. 

Oxford officiates at coronation of James I. 

Southampton liberated — arranges performance of 
"Love's Labour's Lost" for the new Queen. 

Last of "Shakespeare's" sonnets written. 

1604. Authentic publication of "Hamlet." 
Date assigned to "Othello." 
Death of Edward de Vere. 

Last of authentic Shakespearean issues for 18 years. 

William Shakspere's supposed retirement to Strat- 
ford (according to some Stratfordian author- 

Southampton's connection with \Yilliam Shakspere 


Posthumous Matters. 

1 605-1 608. Suspension of Shakespearean pubhcation. 
1 608-1 609. Shght revival. 

Pubhcation of three plays and the Sonnets, all pub- 
lished unauthentically. 
1 61 2. Second Lady Oxford dies. 

Date assigned for William Shakspere's complete re- 
tirement from London. 
1 61 6. Death of William Shakspere. 

1622. Separate publication of "Othello." 

1623. The First Folio "Shakespeare" published. 

1624. Death of the Earl of Southampton. 
1632. The Second Folio Shakespeare published. 

Publication of Lyly's plays by the same firm. There 
appears for the first time in these plays a set of 
excellent lyrics which had been omitted from all 
previous editions of Lyly's work. 
1635. Death of Sir Horace Vere (April 2nd). 



"We called Dante the melodious Priest of Middle-Age 
Catholicism. May we not call Shakespeare the still more 
melodious Priest of a true Catholicism, the Universal 
Church of the Future and of all times." 

Carlyle, ''Heroes J' 

We may now bring our labours to a close with a review 
of the course our investigations have taken and a sum- 
mary of their results. Having examined both the internal 
and external conditions of the old theory of Shakespearean 
authorship, we found that the whole presented such an 
accumulation and combination of anom.alies as to render it 
no longer tenable. We therefore undertook the solution 
of problem of authorship thus presented. 

Beginning with a characterization of Shakespeare drawn 
from a consideration of his writings, a characterization em- 
bracing no less than eighteen points and involving a most 
unusual combination, we proceeded to look for the 
dramatist. Using the form of the "Venus and Adonis" 
stanza as a guide, we selected one Elizabethan poem in this 
form, which seemed to bear the greatest resemblance to 
Shakespeare's workmanship. The author of this poem, 
Edward de Vere, was found to fulfil in all essentials the 
delineation of Shakespeare with which we set out. 

We next found that competent literary authorities, in 
testifying to the distinctive qualities of his work, spoke of 
his poems in terms appropriate to "Shakespeare." An 
examination of his position in the history of Elizabethan 
poetry showed him to be a possible source of the Shake- 



speare literature, whilst an examination of his lyrics re- 
vealed a most remarkable correspondence both In general 
qualities and in Important details with the other literary 
work which we now attribute to him. Turning next to the 
records of his life and of his family we found that these 
were fully reflected in the dramas : the contents of which 
bear pronounced marks of all the outstanding incidents and 
personal relationships of his career, whilst the special con- 
ditions of his life at the time when these plays were being 
produced were just such as accorded with the Issuing of 
the works. 

His death, we found, was followed by an Immediate ar- 
rest of Shakespearean publication, and by a number of other 
striking evidences of the removal of the great dramatist, 
whilst a temporary revival of publication a few years later 
was of such a character as to give additional support to 
the view that the author was then dead. Finally, we have 
shown that the sonnets are now made Intelligible for the 
first time since their appearance, and that the great dra- 
matic tour de force of the author Is nothing less than an 
Idealized portraiture of himself. 

Summed up we have: — 

1. The evidences of the poetry. 

2. The general biographical evidence. 

3. The chronological evidence. 

4. The posthumous evidence. 

5. The special arguments: 

(^0 The "All's Well" argument. 

(b) The "Love's Labour's Lost" argument. 

(c) The "Othello" argument. 
{d) The Sonnets argument. 
{e) The "Hamlet" argument. 

It is the perfect harmony, consistency and convergence 
of all the \arlous lines of argument employed, and the over- 
whelming mass of coincidences that they involve, that give 


to our results the appearance of a case fully and, we be- 
lieve, unimpeachably proven. 

We have by no means exhausted the subject, however. 
Not only does much remain to be said, but it may be that 
in taking so decisive a step, involving the readjustment of 
more than one long-established conception, some statements 
have been made that later will have to be modified or with- 
drawn. Working, too, amongst a mass of details, in what 
was previously an unfamiliar domain, it is possible that 
serious errors have slipped in. In arguments like the pres- 
ent, however, whole lines of subsidiary evidence may break 
down and yet leave the central contention firmly and un- 
assailably established. 

It would not in the least surprise us, moreover, if par- 
ticular items of evidence much more conclusive than any 
single argument we have offered, should be forthcoming, 
or even if it should be pointed out that we have blunder- 
ingly overlooked some vital matter. From experience in 
the course of our enquiries we have no fear that any such 
oversight will appreciably affect the validity of the argu- 
ment as a whole. For the detection of oversights hitherto 
has but brought additional strength to our position; and so 
frequently has this occurred in the past that it is difficult 
to think of its having any other effect in the future. Only 
one conclusion then seems possible; namely, that the prob- 
lem of the authorship of Shakespeare's plays has been 
solved, and that all future enquiry is destined to furnish 
but an accumulating support to the solution here proposed. 

It will be seen that only in a general way has it been 
possible to adhere, in our last chapters, to the plan of 
investigation outlined at the start. In tracing indications 
of the life and personality of Edward de Vere in the 
writings of Shakespeare, much of the ground mapped out 
for separate succeeding stages of the enquiry has been 
covered. The sixth stage was to gather together "cor- 
roborative evidence," and this Is largely furnished by the 
last two chapters in which the poetic and the dramatic self- 


revelation of the poet are respectively dealt with. The 
seventh stage, to develop personal connections, if possible, 
between the new author and the old authorship, including 
the man William Shakspere, is covered by those biograph- 
ical chapters which treat of Arthur Golding, the translator 
of Ovid; Anthony Munday, the playwright; Lyly, Oxford's 
private sea*etary and "Shakespeare's only model ir^ 
Comedy"; and lastly Henry Wriothesley, Earl of South- 
ampton, to whom the Shakespeare poems are dedicated, 
who is known as the munificent friend of William Shak- 
spere, and in whom the Earl of Oxford manifested a spe- 
cial interest. 

The task which we set out to accomplish has therefore 
been performed in sufficient accordance with the original 
plan. However unworthy of so great a theme the manner 
of presenting the case may be, it is impossible not to feel 
gratified at the good fortune that has attended our ex- 
cursion into a department that is not specially our own. In 
the brief moment of conscious existence which lies between 
the two immensities Destiny has honoured us with this 
particular task, and though it may not be the work we could 
have wished to do, we are glad to have been able to do so 

The matter must now pass out of our hands, and the 
case must be tried in public by means of a discussion in 
which expert opinion must play a large part in the for- 
mation of a definitive judgment. Whether such discussion be 
immediate or deferred, we have no doubt that it must 
come at some time or other, and that, when it does come, 
the ultimate verdict will be to proclaim Edward de Vere, 
Seventeenth Earl of Oxford, as the real author of the 
greatest masterpieces in English literature. 

We venture, therefore, to make an earnest appeal first 
of all to the thoughtful sections of all classes of the British 
public, and not merely of the literary classes, to examine, 
and even to insist upon an authoritative examination, of 
the evidence adduced. The matter belongs, of course, to 


the world at large. But England must bear the greater 
part of the responsibility; and her honour is involved in 
seeing that a question of the name and fame of one of 
the most illustrious of her immortal dead, the one name 
which England has stamped most unquestionably upon the 
intellectual life of the human race, is not given over to 
mere literary contentiousness. We are bound, however, 
to make a special appeal to those, whose intellectual equip- 
ment and opportunities fit them for the examination of the 
argument, to approach the problem in an impartial spirit. 
It will not be an easy thing for Stratfordians or Baconians 
of many years' standing to admit that they were wrong, 
and that the problem has at last solved itself in a way con- 
trary to all their former view^s. To sincere admirers of 
"Shakespeare," however, those who have caught something 
of his largeness of intellectual vision and fidelity to fact, 
the difficulty of recognizing and admitting an error will not 
prove insuperable, whilst their power of thus aiding in a 
great act of justice will be immense. 

In addition to securing the recognition of Edward de 
Vere as the author of Shakespeare's works, much remains 
to be done in the way of lifting the load of disrepute from 
his memory, and winning for his name the honour that is 
his by right. "That gentle spirit," as we believe Spenser 
to have described him and as his ow^n verses reveal him 
(according so well as the expression does with our "Gentle 
Shakespeare"), has remained for too many years under 
the "unHfted shadow." 

Whatever his faults may have been, we have In him a 
soul awake at every point to all that touches human life. 
All high aspiration and endeavour find their encouragement 
in his work, and no phase of human suffering or weakness 
but meets in him a kindly and sympathetic treatment, even 
when his mockery is most trenchant. "The man whom Na- 
ture's self had made, to mock herself and truth to imitate 
w^ith kindly counter under mimic shade" — the terms in which 
we have shown Spenser speaks of De Vere, and which so 


accurately describe "Shakespeare" — could be no profligate. 
The irregularities to which the Shakespearean sonnets bear 
witness are beyond question rooted in sincerity of character 
and tenderness of heart. We do not condone such, but we 
are bound to draw a very marked distinction between this 
and mere dissoluteness. All that Shakespeare has written, 
and every line of De Vere, bespeaks a man who, even in 
the lowest ciepths of pessimism, and in his moments of bit- 
terest cynicism, had kept alive the highest faculties of his 
mind and heart. No man of persistently loose life can do 
this; and, therefore, the establishing of the identity of Ed- 
ward de Vere with "Shakespeare" deniands the relinquish- 
ing of all those superficial judgments that might have been 
allowed to pass unchallenged so long as Edward de Vere 
was supposed to be a person of no particular moment in 
the history of his country or the world. 

Until now the world has moreover seen and known in 
him only the eccentricity and turbulence of Hamlet. The 
real Hamlet, tender-hearted and' passionate, whose deep 
and melancholy soul broods affectionately upon the great 
tragedy of human life, and who yet preserves the light of 
intellect and humour, whose "noble heart" breaks at last but 
who carries on his fight to the last moment of life, when 
the pen, not the sword, drops from his fingers, is the Ham- 
let which we must now see in Edward de Vere, as he stands 
before the world as "Shakespeare." The fret and trouble 
of his objective life in the Elizabethan age have hung around 
his memory for o\er three hundred years. All this, we 
believe, is about to end; and, the period of his purgation 
passed, we may confidently hope that, entering into the full 
possession of his honours, a time of still richer spiritual in- 
fluence awaits his continued existence in the hearts and 
lives of men. 

"The fatness of these pursy times," against which his 
whole career was a protest, has settled more than ever upon 
the life of mankind, and the culminating product of this 
modern materialism is the world war that was raging whilst 


the most of these pages were being penned — a war which 
has been the most insane gamble for material power that 
the undisciplined instinct of domination has ever inflicted 
upon a suffering humanity; threatening the complete sub- 
mergence of the soul of civilized man. Yet amongst the 
projects of "after the war" reconstruction that were being 
set afoot, even whilst it was in progress, materialistic pur- 
poses everywhere prevailed. In education, for example, 
where especially spiritual aims should have dominated, 
commercial and Industrial objects were chiefly considered. 
And now that the conflict is over the entire disruption of 
social existence Is threatened by material "Interests" and 

Against this the spirit of "Shakespeare" again protests. 
His "prophetic soul," still "dreaming on things to come," 
points to a future in which the human spirit, and Its acces- 
sory Instruments and Institutions, must become the supreme 
concern of man. The squandering of his own material 
resources, though unwise In itself, was the soul's reaction 
against the growing Mammon worship of his day: 
and the fidelity with which he represents in his plays the 
chivalries of feudalism Is the expression of an affection for 
those social relationships which minister to the finer spirit 
In man. He stands, then, for an enlarged and enriched 
conception of spiritual things: a conception embracing the 
entire range of man's mental and moral faculties, from 
gayest laughter and subtle playfulness to profoundest 
thought and tragic earnestness of purpose. He stands for 
these things, and he stands for their supremacy In human 
life, Involving the subordination of every other human con- 
cern to these spiritual forces and Interests. 

More than ever in the coming years shall we need the 
spirit of "Shakespeare" to assist in the work of holding the 
"politician" and the materialist, ever manoeuvring for as- 
cendancy In human affairs, to their secondary position in 
subordination to, and under the discipline of, the spiritual 
elements of society. We cannot, of course, go back to 


"Shakespeare's" medlaevalism, but we shall need to in- 
corporate Into modern life what was best In the social order 
and social spirit of the Middle Ages. "The prophetic soul 
of the wide world" fills Its vision, not with a state of more 
intense material competition and increased luxury, but with 
a social order in which the human heart and mind will have 
larger facilities for expansion; In which poetry, music, the 
drama, and art in all its forms will throw an additional 
charm over a life of human harmony and mutual helpful- 
ness; in which, therefore, "Shakespeare," "our ever-living 
poet," will be an Intimate personal Influence when the 
heroes of our late Titanic struggle will be either forgotten 
or will only appear dimly In the pages of history. 

His works do not, and can never, supply all that the 
human soul requires. To satisfy the deepest needs of man- 
kind the Shakespearean scriptures must be supplemented by 
the other great scriptures of our race; and all together they 
will only meet our full demands In so far as they succeed 
In putting before us the guiding image of a divine Humanity. 
In this work, however, "Shakespeare" will always retain 
a foremost place. Speaking no longer from behind a mask 
or from under a pseudonym, but In his own honoured name, 
Edward de Vere, Seventeenth Earl of Oxford, will ever call 
mankind to the worship of truth, reality, the Infinite wonder 
of human nature and the eternal greatness of Man. 


"The Tempest" 

"I DO not discern those marks of long practice in the dra- 
matic art and the full maturity of the poet's genius which 
some have discovered in (The Tempest)." 


Although, as was inevitable, difficulties have arisen in 
the course of our Investigations, the surprising thing has 
been that they have proved so few and un- j^^ , ^^ 
formidable. Up to the present, the greatest amongst 
obstacle is that presented by one play, "The ^ P ^y • 
Tempest." If we pass in review the different plays of 
Shakespeare, in order of the dates assigned to them, we find 
that this one occupies a very remarkable position. First of 
all, we notice that the great popular comedies are all 
attributed to the earlier part of Shakespeare's career, and 
the best known tragedies, with the exception of "Romeo and 
Juliet," to the later part. These tragedies culminate in 
"Hamlet" and "Othello," In the early years of what may 
be called the tragedy period, and taper off with such mixed 
compositions as the tragedies of "Corlolanus," "Timon," 
"Pericles" and "Cymbeline." The great dramatist Is sup- 
posed to have paid his final respects to the dramatic world 
he had adorned for so many years, in a play which another 
man had been called in to finish — the composite and some- 
what inharmonious play of "Henry VIII." Then we have 
"The Tempest" sandwiched In between the group which 
contains such a tragedy as "Pericles" and the nondescript 
history play "Henry VIII." 

From this point of view it looks like a play that had 



wandered away and fallen into bad company. Its natural 
associate, "A Midsummer Night's Dream," is separated 
from it by almost as wide an interval as the Shakespearean 
period will permit. Under any theory of authorship this 
work occupies an anomalous position. To the views we are 
now urging it presents a real and serious difficulty: the only 
formidable obstacle so far encountered, and therefore de- 
manding special attention. 

It will be noticed that it is one of the twenty plays 
printed for the first time in the 1623 folio edition. Al- 
though printed then for the first time there is 
writtng abundant evidence that a number of these 

plays were in existence many years before. In 
relation to "The Tempest" the only authoritative fact 
seems to be that a play of this name was amongst those per- 
formed to celebrate the marriage of the Princess Elizabeth 
to the Elector Frederick in 16 13. There existed, however, 
a forged reference to it connecting it with the year 161 1; 
and as the 16 13 reference almost pushes it outside the 
Shakespearean period proper, the forged reference seems 
like an attempt, for some reason, to bring it more within 
the period. The circumstances are certainly suspicious. 
There is no record of its having been registered, and no 
indication of its having been in print before 1623. Facts 
like these, when connected with such a play as "Timon of 
Athens," do not strike us as being at all remarkable. In 
connection with a stage favourite like "The Tempest" they 
are not what we should have expected, whoever the author 
of the play may have been. It bears more heavily upon 
our own theories, however, than upon the Stratfordian 
view. It seems incredible that it could have been written 
and staged in the early Shakespearean period without some 
trace appearing, and it is very improbable that such a play 
should have been written and allowed to remain unstaged 
for many years, seeing that the staging element in it is more 
pronounced than in any other play attributed to "Shake- 


In addition to all this, it is held to contain traces of 

contemporary events of the early years of James I's reign 

and even to be in part indebted to a pamphlet 

published in 16 10. This fact by itself pre- porary 

sents no insurmountable difficulty, seeing that events in 

, . . the play, 

the mterpolation of other men's work is quite 

a recognized feature of the later Shakespearean plays; but, 
taken along with its more modern character, and, what 
seems to us the less Elizabethan quality of its diction, it ap- 
pears to justify the assumption that the work as a whole be- 
longs to the date to which it has been assigned. 

We have endeavoured to present the case in respect to 
"The Tempest" with all the adverse force with which it bears 
upon the theory of Edward de Vere being "Shakespeare"; 
and must confess that it appears, at first blush, as if "1 he 
Tempest" were threatening the shipwreck of all our hopes 
and labours in the cause of Shakespearean authorship. 

The somewhat anomalous position occupied by the play 
has, however, already given rise to doubts respecting the 
accuracy of the date assigned to it. The first 
writer of eminence to raise these doubts was dates"^^^^^ 
Hunter, who is described in the "Variorum 
Shakespeare," as "one of the most learned and exact of 
commentators." He also has been the first to question its 
title to the high praise which it is fashionable to lavish upon 
this composition: the words which we quote at the head of 
this chapter. Sir George Greenwood, too, has raised doubts 
as to whether the masking performance is from the hand 
of "Shakespeare." 

Other critics and commentators have given attention to 
the question of its date, and although the great majority 
confirm the later date which is usually ascribed to it (1610- 
1613), we furnish now some authorities for an earlier pro- 

Hunter. 1596. 
Knight. 1602-1603. 


Dyce and Staunton. After 1603. 
Karl Elze. 1604. 

There exists, therefore, some Shakespearean authority 
both for an earher date and also for the intervention of a 
strange hand. Nevertheless, we have not felt convinced 
by these authorities; and have therefore been indisposed to 
take refuge behind their findings. The reader who, in spite 
of the contents of this chapter, may continue to cling to 
the old estimate of the play may at any rate find comfort 
in the dates furnished above. 

We must now ask the reader, who we assume is willing 
to take some trouble to get at the truth of the matter, to 
Contrast ^^^^ read carefully some of the earlier 

with other comedies like "Love's Labour's Lost," "A 
Midsummer Night's Dream" and "As You 
Like It." When he has read these works appreciatively, 
and has got a sense, as it were, of Shakespeare's force of 
intellect and wit, the packed significance of his lines, his 
teeming imagery, the fecundity of his ideas on everything 
pertaining to the multiple forces of human nature, his in- 
cisive glances into human motives, his subtle turns of ex- 
pression, the precision and refinement of his distinctions, 
the easy flow of his diction, the vocal quahties of his word 
combinations : all these well-known Shakespearean charac- 
teristics; let him then turn and read "The Tempest," think- 
ing not so much of the broad situations presented by the 
stage play, but looking for that finer literary and poetical 
material that constitute the true Shakespeare work, and he 
will probably experience a much greater disappointment 
than he anticipated. 

Take, for example, the second scene in the first act, 
the dialogue between Prospero and Miranda, especially 
where the former is relating his misfortunes to the latter. 
It seems all right, no doubt, on a first reading, or on hear- 
ing it repeated on the stage. It explains a particular situa- 
tion lucidly, in bold outline, making no special demands 


upon the mind of the reader or hearer; and, for those who 
wish to push on with the business of the play and see how 
things work out, it is just the thing wanted. One does not, 
however, feel a great desire to read it over again imme- 
diately so as to drink more deeply of its poetic charm; nor 
would any one seriously memorize its phrases for the pur- 
pose of enriching his own resources of expression. 

The situation was, however, eminently suitable for fine 
poetic treatment; yet the prosy character of the narration, 
broken by Prosperous harping on the question 
of whether Miranda was attending to him or qulllfj^ 
not, makes one wonder what there is in it to 
justify the attempt at blank verse. We use the word "at- 
tempt" advisedly; for a close examination of it will reveal 
a larger proportion of false quantities and non-rhythmic 
lines than can be found in an equal space in the best Shake- 
spearean verse. Indeed, throughout the play there is a 
general thinness, so far as first-class literary matter and 
the figurative language which distinguishes the best poetry 
are concerned. Our task is to ascertain whether what 
there is possesses true Shakespearean characteristics. 

Judging this point, not by its worst, but what is ac- 
cepted at its best passages, we shall not attempt to select 
what may appear to us as the best, but take 
the one passage in "The Tempest" that has 
been singled out for special notice by others. 

Its chief 

"These our actors, 
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and 
Are melted into air, into thin air: 
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision. 
The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces, 
The solemn temples, the great globe itself, 
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve. 
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, 
Leave not a rack behind." 

If our ideas of Shakespeare's style have been formed 
from studying this particular play, the passage will doubt- 
less seem quite Shakespearean: not otherwise, however. 


Before discussing it as a whole, however, we ask the reader 
to notice the word "and" at the end of the second line, as 
it connects itself with an important point which we shall 
presently have to consider. To what, then, do these lines 
owe their popularity? \Ye know to what a speech of 
Portia's, or a meditation of Jacques', or a soliloquy of 
Hamlet's, owes its popularity. All these great Shake- 
spearean utterances owe their pov,^er, not to the mere 
grandiloquence that fits them for perorations, but to their 
direct appeal to the human heart and mind which form their 
own subject matter. Cosmic theories come and go, but the 
fundamental constitution of human nature, the nature of 
man's inward experiences, sufferings and struggles, remains 
substantially and eternally the same. It Is because Shake- 
speare's theme is ever this enduring spiritual matter that 
his Influence suffers no waning, but grows with the centuries. 
In the passage we have just quoted there is not a touch 
of Shakespeare's special interest. It is simple cosmic 
philosophy, and, as such, it is the most dreary 
phifosophy. negativism that was ever put into high-sound- 
ing words. Shakespeare's soul was much too 
large for mere negation. He was essentially positlvist. 
When he handled his own theme of human nature he ex- 
pounded what he saw and felt, always holding the subject 
down to its own realities, conditioned by Its own essential 
relationships. In modern terms, he was an experimentalist; 
or, to use a clumsier, though more accurate, word, an ex- 
perientialist. On the other hand he was no mere empiricist: 
his was a vision that "looked before and after," a 
"prophetic soul dreaming on things to come." Recognizing 
the limitations of human vision, his mind could yet take In 
the thought of the great unknown that stretched beyond 
the range of Immediate faculties, but he filled It In with no 
mere negative, however undetermined his positive may 
have been. 

"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, 
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy." 


The philosophy of the passage we have quoted from 
"The Tempest" is such as we might conceive Hamlet at- 
tributing to Horatio, and not that of Hamlet 
himself. Nor do we believe that it owes its thumier. 
popularity to the outlook it represents. It is 
rather the awe-inspiring vastness of the conception and its 
high-sounding phrases that have won for the passage its 
place in English rhetorical literature. Neither in theme 
nor in philosophy, however, does it seem to us to be Shake- 

Even the terms of the passage are not original to the 
writer of this much belauded comedy, but are clearly sug- 
gested by a passage in a play written in the last years 
of the sixteenth century (see "Variorum Shakespeare"). 
Their value as evidence of Shakespearean authorship is 
therefore negligible. When, however, we come to the 
closing sentence of the passage we are assured by readers 
of Shakespeare that here, at least, we have the work of 
the master: 

"We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is 
rounded with a sleep." 

Here we find ourselves faced with one of the chief 
difficulties in discussing Shakespeare: namely, dogmatic 
assertion based upon literary feeling or in- 
stinct, but offering no fixed standard of meas- of^dreams 
urement by which the truth of the claim may 
be tested. Although, then, we are assured that these 
words arc eminently Shakespearean, we make bold to say 
that they appear to us as un-Shakespearean as any utter- 
ance with which "Shakespeare" has been credited. 

When we read that "all the world's a stage and all 
the men and women merely players," we feel that the 
writer's mind, in dealing wnth life, is occupied with clear 
and definite conceptions, which he imparts vividly to his 
readers by the crispness and precision of the terms he em- 
ploys. When the mind of Hamlet works upon the great 


unknown, the "sleep of death," and the possible experi- 
ences after death, "what dreams may come," we have the 
same definiteness of conception, the same precise relation- 
ship of language to thought. We may think that he stops 
short: that he might have given us more; but we have no 
uncertainty respecting the part he has given. We move 
with him in the plane of realities alike of life and death: 
and when he deals with what he does not know, he knows 
what it is he does not know. If, then, this mental clarity, 
this definiteness and precision alike of thought and expres- 
sion, are not dominant notes of "Shakespeare," we must 
confess that our understanding of his work has yet to begin. 

Compare now from this point of view the characteristic 
utterances of Shakespeare on life and death just quoted with 
M ddl d ^^^ lines previously cited from "The Tem- 

meta- pest." We may safely challenge any one 

P ysi s. ^^ produce another passage from the 

whole of Shakespeare that will match with the latter 
in metaphysical vagueness. Abandon for a moment the 
practice of squeezing into or squeezing out of these words 
some philosophical significance, and attempt the simpler 
task of attaching a merely elementary English meaning to 
the terms and placing these meanings into some kind of 
coherent relationship to one another. We are stuff: the 
stuff of dreams: dreams are made on (or "of"?): life 
rounded with a sleep — we will not say that Shakespeare 
never gives us such "nuts to crack," but we can say with 
full confidence that they are not characteristically Shake- 
spearean. So far as we can get hold of the general drift 
of the metaphors, it seems that the present life of man is 
likened to dreams: "We are such stuff, etc.," and that he 
brings his dreams to an end by going to sleep. In com- 
mon with Shakespeare and the majority of mankind, how- 
ever, we are accustomed to associate our dreams with our 
actual times of sleep. 

On its deeper side we would say that the sentence is 


In flat contradiction to the mind of Shakespeare. To him 
human life Is the one great objective reahty. We are not 
now saying that he Is right or wrong In this; but it Is this 
objectI\"e pressure of human life upon him that has pro- 
duced the Immortal dramas; whether wholesome or vile 
it Is real wholesomeness and real vlleness; whether life is 
spent in earnest or Is merely that of "men and women 
playing parts," his world is peopled by real men; not 
dreamy stuff. 

Whether, then, we take the cosmic philosophy of the 
whole passage, or the touch of human philosophy with 
which it closes, we maintain that whether written by "Shake- 
speare" or not, it is not Shakespearean. 

If we are disposed to deny to the play the possession 
of first-class Shakespearean work it would nevertheless be 
folly to discredit the good work, of what Quality of 
might be called the second class, that it cer- "The 
tainly does contain. The times were prolific 
of second-rate work, judged by the standard of Shake- 
speare; work which, but for this high standard, might have 
ranked as first class. There seems, indeed, to be in the 
play indications of a real collaboration between two men, 
a playwright proper and a poet. The passage quoted, and 
others, especially the lyrical verse, seem to be from a dif- 
ferent hand from the one that wrote the play as a whole; 
but It does not look like the unfinished work of one writer 
being finished by another. Our present business, however, 
is to see whether or not it is Shakespearean. 

Continuing this enquiry we shall first recall certain 

criticisms in "Hamlet" upon a class of play ,,j^ , 

then coming Into vogue. shows and 


"There is, sir, an aery of children, little eyases, that cry out on 
the top of question, and are most tyranically clapped for it." 

". . . the groundlings . . . for the most part are capable of 
nothing but inexplicable dumb-shows and noise." 


With these remarks in mind let the reader turn over 
the pages of the great Shakespearean dramas, noticing the 
stage directions. For the most part these are little more 
than the simple expressions "enter," "exit," "aside," 
"sleeps," "rises and advances," "trumpets," "noise with- 
in," and such like. When, as in the case of the dumb- 
show episode in the by-play in "Hamlet," directions are 
necessary, these are limited to mere outline, every par- 
ticular action indicated being an essential part of the 
drama, and moreover quite explicable. Now, with Ham- 
let's special animadversion on "inexplicable dumb-shows 
and noise" in mind, turn to the stage directions in "The 

"A tempestuous noise of thunder and lightning heard." "A con- 
fused noise within." "Thunder" (at intervals). 

"Enter Prospero, above, invisible. Enter several strange Shapes, 
bringing in a banquet; they dance about it with gentle actions and 
salutations; and, inviting the king, etc., to eat, they depart." 

Again : — 

"Thunder and lightning. Enter Ariel, like a harpy; claps his 
wings upon the table; and with a quaint device, the banquet vanishes." 

Again : — 

"He vanishes in thunder; then, to soft music, enter the Shapes 
again, and dance, with mocks and mows, and carry out the table." 

Further on: — 

"Enter certain reapers, properly habited; they join with the 
Nymphs in a graceful dance; towards the end whereof Prospero 
starts suddenly and speaks; after which to a strange hollow and con- 
fused noise they heavily vanish." 

And there is still more of this kind of thing. Yet it is 
supposed that the very man who penned all this had, six 
or seven years previously, taken up arms against such 
pantomimic products and entered into his great master- 
piece a caveat against this development of "inexplicable 
dumb-shows and noise." 


In the First Folio only six out of all Shakespeare's 
plays are prefaced with lists of dramatis personae. Of 
these "The Tempest" is one and "Timon of ^^ ^^ ^^ 
Athens," an admittedly "collaborated" work, spearean 
is another: in the latter work it is done most 
ostentatiously. As we shall find the singularities of the 
former play accumulate, the exceptional fact just narrated 
should be kept in mind. Turning to the list in "The 
Tempest" we find that one character is described as 
"drunken," another as "honest," and a third as "savage." 
Although in another of these lists ("The Two Gentle- 
men") Thurio is spoken of as "foolish," in none of them 
is there so much of it as in the play we are considering. 
The whole thing strikes one as alien to the spirit of "Shake- 
speare," whose method is naturally to reveal the character 
of his personam in the working of the plays. It Is hardly 
probable that "Shakespeare" had a hand in any of the lists: 
they are editorial work; and the character they assume In 
this Instance helps to emphasize the fact, which others have 
pointed out, that exceptional care was bestowed upon the 
editing of "The Tempest." The editor or editors had evi- 
dently some special interest in this particular drama. 

Coming now to the question of general workmanship, 
we may take any other of the great Shakespearean comedies, 
and examine the dialogue throughout, par- 
ticularly that between young people of the ^{ "* 
opposite sexes. What strikes us most Is the 
constant clash of wit and the subtle teasing that takes place 
whenever young men and women meet, together with the 
playful cross-purposes In which Shakespeare's lovers in- 
variably indulge. There Is nothing like this In "The 
Tempest." In its place we get the milk and water senti- 
mentality of Miranda and Ferdinand unillumlned by a 
single flash of Intellect. Yet Miranda was no child Ignorant 
of life: a fact most evident from her previous conversation 
with her father. Possibly the dramatist, In composing this 
love scene, in which he wished to represent Miranda In a 


particular light, had overlooked what he had already writ- 
ten in the previous scene. Be that as it may, the character 
of the intercourse between these two lovers is worth con- 
sidering. They meet for the first time and spend about 
five minutes together. In that short space of time they 
have fallen deeply in love, confessed their sentiments and 
arranged their first tryst, "half-an-hour hence." All this, of 
course, is due to Prospero's magic. How interminable that 
half-hour must have seemed to the young people ! And so, 
when it comes to an end, they meet again, in the presence 
of Miranda's father, and listen to a lecture from him; but 
when he leaves them, and they are at last alone together, 
for the first time as a betrothed couple, in the transports of 
their new-born love they pour out their mutual affection in 
a rapturous game of chess. Is It possible to conceive of 
"Shakespeare" representing thus any of the outstanding 
couples of his plays, like Romeo and Juliet, Orlando and 
Rosalind, Hermla and Lysander, Valentine and Sylvia, 
Berowne and Rosaline, Portia and Bassanio, or Beatrice 
and Benedick? In all these cases the interest centres in 
the play of dialogue: mind meeting mind; and not upon 
the play of limelight upon a pretty stage scene. 

Not only In the kind of Intercourse we have just been 
discussing, but throughout the play the great Shakespearean 

trait that we most miss Is genuine wit. In the 
Coarse proper sense of Intellectual refinement and 

subtlety. The drama depends for Its Interest 
very largely upon the spectacular, and Is probably for this 
reason selected In modern times for displaying the skill 
more of the stage mechanics than of the actors. It has, 
Indeed, been acknowledged by one authority that "there Is 
no wit In *The Tempest.' " Nevertheless its author was 
solicitous regarding the lighter side of the play; and so 
when fun and some relief from stage display Is sought, the 
play makes Its appeal to the grotesque, coarse, and ludicrous, 
drawing almost the whole of the laughter it contains from 
drunken buffoonery. Without its elaborate stage effects the 


performance would probably fall very flat; and this fact 
supports the theory that it is not a true Elizabethan work, 
but belongs to the period to which it has been assigned, 
although such plays were evidently coming into vogue in 
the later Elizabethan period. 

On the other hand, to think of it as coming from the 
greatest Elizabethan dramatist, when to his vast powers 
had been added the mellowing influence of a still larger 
experience, increases the mysteriousness in which the work 
is involved. The fact is that this play has always been 
looked at with the other dramas as an imposing background. 
Viewed as supplementary to a monumental literature, the 
greatness that is in the other writings has been carried 
forward and added to its account. Separated from the 
other works, however, it is seen to contain much thinner 
intellectual stuff than has been supposed. 

The eftect of these considerations is to raise the ques- 
tion, not merely of whether "The Tempest" contains a large 
admixture of other men's work, but the bolder 
and more momentous question of whether it problem"^^^ 
is, in any sense, a work of Shakespeare's. 

This is not a question of whether it is a good or a poor 
production, or whether certain genuine Shakespearean plays 
are not in some respects inferior to this one. The question 
is this: Judging from a comparison of the characteristics 
of this play with the outstanding features of Shakespeare's 
work, what are the probabilities that it did not come from 
the same pen as the others? 

We have already pointed out that its position amongst 
the other dramas, from the point of view of date, marks 
it at once as a work quite by itself. In other 
respects, too, we shall find that this is so. It ^Lpart^ 
is the only play staged with a background of 
the sea and sea-faring life; the nearest approach to it, 
curiously enough, being "Pericles." And it is the only one 
that has the practice of magic as a dominant element: the 
supernatural agents in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" not 


being under human control and direction. This trinity of 
singularities constitutes a sufficient impeachment to begin 
with. We must, however, add to this what is perhaps the 
strongest general argument against it, that it is the only 
play attributed to "Shakespeare" which makes any attempt 
at conforming to the Greek unities. That "Shakespeare" 
should do this at any time seems highly improbable: it is 
contrary to the free spirit of his genius, and it is an illus- 
tration of that "tongue-tying of art by authority" which 
he explicitly repudiates. To think of him submitting to 
such unwholesome restriction at the extreme end of his 
career would require some extraordinary explanation. 

Take the work now in its bearing upon some of those 
points according to which we sought to characterize "Shake- 

. speare" at the beginning of our investigations. 

Feudalism. . , , , . . , . , , , 

Although It contams a kmg and a duke no 

one can feel in reading it that he is in touch with the 

social structure of a medieval feudalism. Prospero, the 

Duke of Milan, represents in no way a ducal dignity, or 

the functions of a dukedom. He is, first and last, a 

magician, and it would have mattered little to his part in 

the play if he had been originally a patriarchal deacon. 

King Alonso can hardly be regarded as a personage be- 
longing to the play. In certain important scenes he is only 
required to stand and ejaculate such expressions as "Prithee 
peace," or "Prithee be still." He is the most wooden and 
least royal of all Shakespeare's kings; a part to be relegated 
to a subordinate member of the company of actors. Pros- 
pero's brother, Antonio, the usurping duke, is a very ordi- 
nary stage villain, whom the writer of the drama seems 
almost to have forgotten after the second act, with a most 
curious result; for, although the anti-climax of the play con- 
sists in his undoing, his only part in the final act involving 
disaster to his fortunes, is to make a single remark — about 
fish. This is neither feudalism nor "Shakespeare." 

So much for the social side of medievalism. When we 
turn to its religious aspect, Catholicism, a more curious 


situation is presented. Whatever "Shakespeare's" personal 

opinions may have been in respect to religion, there exists no 

doubt as to his being thoroughly conversant 

. 1 ,1 T-v r^ .^ ^' ^ • i Catholicism. 

With the Koman Latholic standpoint and 

quite familiar with its terminology; and all this he in- 
troduces frequently and appropriately into his dramas. 
Now "The Tempest" is a work dealing with Italian noble- 
men of Milan and Naples, that Is to say, belonging to a 
Roman Catholic society, yet from the first word of the play 
to the last we cannot find a single term employed suggestive 
of a distinctively Catholic conception. At the same time 
innumerable occasions are presented when such touches of 
local colouring could have been inserted, and when any 
writer having the material at command would unconsciously 
have tended to Introduce it. We need only cite the call 
"to prayers," the betrothal of Ferdinand and Miranda, and 
the serious religious cast given to some of Prospero's inter- 
course with his daughter. 

Whether, therefore, we approach It on its social or Its 
religious side, we may say that the medievalism which 
"Shakespeare" has, by embodying In his dramas, done so 
much to preserve In living colours, Is almost, if not wholly, 
absent from this particular play. We are entitled to say 
that the man who wrote it had neither "Shakespeare's" 
intimacy with Catholicism nor his vitalized conception of 
what was best In feudalism. 

Significant results are again obtained when we apply to 
"The Tempest" the test of the dramatist's treatment of 
woman. We shall put aside that definite and 
peculiar attitude we deduced from the Son- 
nets, which does not appear in the best Shakespearean 
comedies, and confine our attention to the dramas. Here 
we find the most frequent and varied references to the 
characters, disposition, moods, motives and conduct of 
women. That he had observed women accurately might 
be questioned, but that he had observed them closely and 
had a very great deal to say on the subject no one will 


deny. Consequently the word "woman" is one most fre- 
quently in use in his plays. Now, in "The Tempest" the 
word "woman' never occurs once in connection with such 
matters as those to which we have just alluded. It will per- 
haps be a matter of surprise to many that the word only 
occurs twice in the whole play, and these are most formal 
and void of character. Miranda remarks that she "no 
woman's face remembers," and Caliban remarks "I never 
saw a woman but Sycorax my dam and she." The three 
occasions on which the plural is used are equally colour- 
less. This is indeed a very poor show for a work that is 
supposed to have come from the hand of such an exponent 
of human nature as "Shakespeare." 

In tracing indications of the life and character of Ed- 
ward de Vere in the writings of "Shakespeare" we had oc- 
casion to remark upon the prominence given 
ship.^^"^^"' ^o horses and horsemanship generally. We 
find that the simple noun "horse," leaving out 
all compound derivatives, occurs about 206 times; an aver- 
age of about seven times in each of the 36 plays. If we add 
to these the words that suggest horse-riding, like "horse- 
back" and "horsemanship," the total reaches nearly 300, 
not one of which occurs in ^'The Tempesf^ — the only play 
attributed to ^^Shakespeare^^ of which this can he said. 

The word "colt" does, however, occur, and the pas- 
sage is most instructive. 

"Like unback'd colts they prick'd their ears, 
Advanced their eyelids, lifted up their noses, 
As they smelt music." 

We shall pass no comment upon these awkward lines, 
but ask the reader to compare the passage with the follow- 
ing from "The Merchant of Venice," which either con- 
sciously or unconsciously seems to have suggested it. 

"For do but note a wild and wanton herd. 
Or race of youthful and unhandled colts, 
Fetching mad bounds, bellowing and neighing loud. 
Which is the hot condition of their blood. 


If they but hear perchance a trumpet sound, 
Or any air of music touch their ears, 
You shall perceive them make a mutual stand, 
Their savage eyes turn'd to a modest gaze 
By the sv^eet pov/er of music." 

We are asked to believe that the former travesty of 
the latter passage was written by the same poet after he 
had added fifteen years to his experience as a writer. Had 
the dates been reversed we might have supposed a develop- 
ment of the idea and technical power. As they stand, how- 
ever, it is outrageous to suppose that any eminent poet 
could so mutilate his own work. 

Again, in the matter of falconry terms, in which the 
vocabulary of Shakespeare is so varied, "hawk," "falcon," 
"haggard," "eyas," "tercel," "tassel-gentle," 
"puttock," "pitch," "to seel," "to prune," "to ^^°'*- 
whistle off"; none of these occur in the play we are now 
examining. We find indeed the same state of things in all 
other matters relating to sport, the chase and archery (ex- 
cepting a single reference to Cupid's bow and arrows). No 
deer, stag or pricket, hare or hound, greyhound, game, 
slips or trumpet, once appears. These are enough to show 
that not merely a few odd terms, any one or two of which 
might be missing from a true Shakespearean work, but 
whole strata of terms, dealing with the imagery In which 
the mind of Shakespeare habitually worked, are entirely 
missing from this play. A mere layman may be excused 
If his faith in the judgment of Shakespearean experts grows 

Shakespeare's special domain being human nature, how 
does "The Tempest" stand with respect to prominent 
words of the dramatist in this domain? One 
of his constantly recurring words Is the word ^"ure" 
"will," and in Mary Cowden Clarke's con- 
cordance only when It Is used as a noun is it recorded. In 
this sense it appears no less than 280 times, and out of these 
only once does it appear in "The Tempest," in the follow- 


ing phrase, "the wills above^^ ; so that, as a matter of fact, 
the human will, which meets us at every turn in Shake- 
speare, is never once referred to in this play except in some 
editions in which the noun "good-will" has been broken 
into two words. How important a word it is in the 
vocabulary of Shakespeare will be realized by any one who 
will take the trouble to read Sir Sidney Lee's chapter on 
the "Will" sonnets. 

Take again so fundamental a word as "faith," which, 
with its derivatives, occurs about 250 times. Neither this 
word, nor any one of its derivatives, "faithful," "faith- 
fully," "faithfulness," once appears in the play. Or, again, 
the word "duty," not once does it occur, nor any of its 
derivations, "dutiful" or "duteous," notwithstanding the 
fact that these words are bound up with the Feudal System, 
and occur about 200 times. We meet with exactly the 
same thing in reference to such dominant words as 
"courage" and "jealousy." The word "melancholy" and 
the noun "desire," the latter especially representing a most 
persistent idea in the mind of "Shakespeare," are again en- 
tirely absent. In short, many of the terms most essential 
in handling those problems of human nature with which 
"Shakespeare" deals are missing from the work which is 
supposed to represent the matured mind of the dramatist. 
On the strength of the last group of words alone we 
should be quite justified in rejecting absolutely any claim 

that this play was written by the same author 
Vocabulary. ^^ ^^^ great Shakespearean dramas. Of 

minor points we may mention the absence of 
the "red and white" contrast, and, of course, the "lily and 
the rose." Indeed, neither lily, rose, nor violet, which we 
take to be Shakespeare's favourite flowers, is once men- 

It is difficult to represent how "The Tempest" stands 
in the matter of general vocabulary. If, however, any 
Shakespearean concordance be taken, and a number of 
pages be selected at random from different parts of the 


book, then closely examined, It will be found that ''The 
Tempest" Is more frequently absent than almost any other 
play from long lists of examples of the recurrence of words 
which appear In most of the other works. It will thus be 
seen that It has probably the poorest, as well as the least 
Shakespearean, vocabulary of them all; not even excepting 
''Pericles." Moreover, In reading It with an exclusive at- 
tention to this point, one gets the Impression that Its vocabu- 
lary Is not only more restricted In range, but Is drawn from 
quite a different stratum of the English language. In ad- 
dition to this there appears about the language an artifi- 
ciality and affected archaism suggestive of a later writer 
trying to compose In Shakespeare's vein. 

After all the praise that has been lavished on this par- 
ticular work It may seem presumptuous to question such a 

thing as the quality of Its versification. If, 

, • • 1 • • 1 J r Scansion. 

however, a critical examination be made or 

the text of the play, the large proportion of bad metre to 
be found In it will probably occasion some surprise. From 
first to last Its blank verse jogs and jolts in a most uncom- 
fortable way. Such false quantities as occasionally Inter- 
rupt the even flow In the best Shakespearean verse, so crowd 
upon one another In "The Tempest" that It Is Impossible 
to preserve for any length of time that sense of rhythmic 
diction which gratifies the sub-conscious ear in the silent 
reading of the other plays. There Is nothing to be gained 
by rating the work below Its true value, but we are bound 
to say that In many instances the scansion seems to us so 
wretched that we suspect the writer of building up his 
pentameters by mechanically counting syllables on his 
fingers: and counting badly. 

In this connection we have already had occasion to 
draw attention to the blank verse of the first Important 
piece of dialogue in the play: that between 
Prospero and Miranda In which the former endfngs." 
IS relating the story of his misfortunes. A 
minute inspection of this discloses the fact that much of it 


Is not verse at all in the true sense, but merely prose, 
artificially cut up Into short strips : precisely as, in an earlier 
chapter, we saw was actually done in "Corlolanus." Versifi- 
cation, which is fundamentally the breaking up of utter- 
ances into short pieces, or lines, according to some rule, al- 
ways Implies that, In a general way, the pause formed by 
the end of the line corresponds to a pause, however slight, 
in the spoken utterance; the exceptions to this only serving 
to emphasize the rule. When the connection between the 
last word of one line and the first word of the next is too 
close, and such connections become too frequent, the sense 
of versification is lost and it becomes merely dismembered 

Take then the two first lines of this dialogue: — 

"If by your art, my dearest father, you have 
Put the wild waters in this roar, allay them." 

Now, it is hardly possible to get two words more closely 
connected in spoken utterances than a Principal and an 
Auxiliary Verb, when no adverb comes be- 
ve"bs!^^^ tween them, as In the case of this verb, "have 

put." Nor is this the only example of Its 
kind. Broken up In precisely the same way we have the 

"had Burnt" (III. i.); "will Revenge" (III. 2.); 
"have Incensed" (III. 3.); "have Been" (V. i.); 
"have Received" (V. i.); "must Take" (V. i.) 

Taking "Hamlet" as our standard for measuring 
Shakespeare's style of versification, we do not find a single 
example of this defect in the great masterpiece. 

Continuing our examination of this dialogue, we find, 
a few lines further on, this passage : — 

"It should the good ship so have swallow'd, and 
The fraughting souls within her." 


This "and" at the end of lines in "The Tempest" is 
quite a feature of its author's style. We 
pointed it out in the passage ''and Are melted [jons!^"^' 
into air." We find it repeated three times 
in this short dialogue : 

"and A prince of power;" 
"and She said;" 

the third being in the above quotation. 
In exactly the same way we have : — 

"and My strong imagination" (II. i.) 

"and I'll seek" (III. 3.) 

"and Harmonious charmingly" (IV. i.) 

Again, not once does this defect appear in "Hamlet." 

We have also instances of the conjunction "but" placed 
at the end of lines 

"but For every trifle" (II. 2.) 

"but The mistress" (III. i.) 

"but If thou dost break" (IV. i.) 

Nor does this defect once appear in "Hamlet." 

Examples also occur of lines ending in other Conjunc- 
tions, to which may be added Conjunctive Pronouns and 
Conjunctive Adverbs : — 

"who Art ignorant" (I. 2.) 

"that Hath kept with thy remembrance" (I. 2.) 

"who To trash for over topping" (I. 2.) 

"that A noble Neapolitan" (I. 2.) 

"that I prize" (I. 2.) 

"for He's gentle" (I. 2.) 

"whom We all were" (II. i.) 

"that We say befits" (II. i.) 

"which Lie tumbling" (II. 2.) 

And so it continues on to end of the play. Yet never once 
does this form of intimate connection between the end of 
one line and the beginning of the next appear in "Hamlet." 
How it is possible to hold, in face of a comparison of this 


kind, that the versification of both plays came from the 

same pen, is most difficult to understand. 

Another peculiar form of connection between the end 

of one line and the beginning of the next is 

Prepositions. i- i i •^ n • • i 

to spnt between them simple rrepositional 

phrases. For example : — 

"upon A most auspicious star" (I. 2.) 

*'upon Some god" (I. 2.) 

"at Which end" (II. i.) 

"of Our human generation" (III. 3.) 

"zmth A heaviness" (V. i.) 

"on The strangeness" (V. i.) 

The only Prepositions which appear at the end of lines 
in "Hamlet" are those which belong to the preceding verbs, 
and do not, except in one case, which has a special justifica- 
tion, enter into the formation of Prepositional phrases. 

A critical and exhaustive examination of the line termi- 
nations in the blank verse of the plays attributed to "Shake- 
Shake- speare" will, we imagine, yield surprising re- 
spearean sults. We have therefore taken not only the 
play of "Hamlet," which we made our 
standard in examining the blank verse of "The Tempest," 
but all the Shakespearean plays w^hich received a proper 
literary presentation between the publication of "Henry 
IV," part I, the first of the issue in 1597, and "Hamlet" 
(1604), the last of the authentic issues prior to the First 
Folio, and we have spent some hours in running the eye over 
the terminations of their blank verse. Not once have we 
found a line ending in "and," "but," or other simple Con- 
junction or Conjunctive Pronoun. We will not venture to 
say that such an ending does not exist in "Richard III," 
"Richard II," "A Midsummer Night's Dream," "Love's 
Labour's Lost," "The Merchant of Venice," "Romeo and 
Juliet," "Much Ado," "Titus Andronicus" or "Hamlet"; 
but if any such termination should happen to be there we 
have not discovered it; and- so extremely rare is it that it 
would have to be ranked with "Homer's nods" and "Mil- 


ton's lapses." In the case of "The Tempest," however, 
there is no need to search for these endings : they obtrude 
themselves in a most uncomfortable way. 

When, however, we turn to the plays which "others 
were called upon at a later date to finish," a totally different 
state of things is met with. There is prob- 
ably not one of these without several "and" endfngs" 
and "but" terminations. The play which ^^^ strange 
comes nearest to "The Tempest" in this par- 
ticular we should imagine to be "Cymbeline." If we glance 
over it whilst the contrast between the true Shakespearean 
terminations and "The Tempest" terminations are still in 
mind, we recognize at once that the "Cymbeline" termina- 
tions belong to "The Tempest" order. "Ands," "huts," and 
Conjunctive Pronouns are met with frequently; and in 
versification, at any rate, there is a general suggestion of 
similarity in the two works. It is interesting, therefore, to 
note in this play, the sea, the scene before a cave, the thunder 
and lightning, and the dumb-show "mummery" (which Sir 
Sidney Lee admits could not have been penned by "Shake- 
speare"), and even the character of Imogen: all of which 
are suggestive of the work we are discussing. 

If, then, the substance of the play of "Cymbeline" is 
Shakespearean, everything is suggestive of its having been 
versified by the writer who composed "The Tempest." A 
development of this line of study will probably do much to 
still further reduce the quantity of pure Shakespearean 
literature. In so far as the conceptions and general word- 
ing of the later plays are recognized as Shakespearean, it 
will tend to bear out a theory we have developed in an 
earlier chapter, that these dramas existed first as stage 
plays with a larger proportion of prose, and were subse- 
quently converted into poetic literature; the later works 
having to receive their versification from strange hands. In 
the case of "Cymbeline" it is possible to ascribe the poetic 
dressing alone to the strangers. In the case of "The 
Tempest" we believe that the entire drama must be given 


over to those who were engaged In finishing off "Shake- 
speare's" plays. 

We are prepared to maintain, then, on the strength of 

the various points indicated, that "The Tempest" is no play 

Not Shake- ^^ "Shakespeare's." It is not the absence of 

speare's an odd Shakespearean characteristic, but the 

absence of so many dominant marks of his 

work, along with the presence of several features which 

are quite contrary to his style, that compels us to reject it. 

If, therefore, it was actually put forward during William 

Shakspere's lifetime as a genuine Shakespearean play, it 

furnishes an additional testimony to the previous death of 

the dramatist, and what was at first a difficulty thus becomes 

a further support and confirmation of our theory. Who the 

writer or writers may have been, how the work came to find 

a place in the collected issue of Shakespeare's plays (the 

First Folio), why it happens to be accorded the first place 

in that collection and is also edited with exceptional pains, 

are, no doubt, problems of considerable interest, which, if 

solved, might throw some light upon our own problem. 

Their solution, however, is neither pressing nor necessary, 

and therefore may be allowed to stand over. 

We desire, however, to emphasize the fact that but for 
the theory that Edward de Vere was the writer of Shake- 
speare's plays we might never have been led 
our^problem. ^^ suspect the authenticity of "The Tempest." 
When, therefore, the theory of the De Vere 
authorship suggests doubts as to the genuineness of this 
play, and on examination we find such an accumulation of 
evidence that it is not Shakespeare's work, the discovery 
brings additional support to the supposition that the author 
of the genuine work was indeed Edward de Vere. And it 
Is the frequency with which such examples of mutual or 
complementary corroboration have sprung from our theory, 
that has given to that theory such an air of certainty. 

We are conscious that in putting forw^ard these views 
respecting "The Tempest," we are probably "cutting preju- 


dice against the grain" as dangerously as In the theory of 
authorship we are advancing, and also risking the opening 
up of side Issues which may divert attention from the central 
theme. This Is why we have relegated the matter to an 
appendix. To those whom these arguments do not satisfy 
we would therefore, for the time being. Indicate the earlier 
dates suggested by Hunter and others, and the general 
theory of collaboration held respecting "Shakespeare's" 
latest productions. Meanwhile we make It clear that we 
do not rest upon these earlier date theories, and that the 
rejection of "The Tempest" must In our view be Incorpor- 
ated ultimately Into the general argument. 


Supplementary Evidence 

One of the chief difficulties with which we have had to con- 
tend in penning the foregoing pages has been that of keep- 
ing pace with the accumulation of evidence and placing it in 
its proper connections : a very strong testimony to the sound- 
ness of the general conclusions. Even after the work was 
virtually all set up some most interesting evidence, one piece 
of which will probably crown the whole structure, came 
into our hands. These matters we can only briefly indicate. 

The Posthumous Argument 

First, we would quote the following passage which we 
had overlooked in the English Men of Letters series, which 
gives valuable support to our "Posthumous" argument: 

"At the beginning of his career Shakespeare made very 
free use of the work of other men. . . . Towards the end 
of his career his work is once more found mixed with the 
work of other men, but this time there is generally reason 
to suspect that it is these others that have laid him under 
contribution, altering his completed plays, or completing 
his unfinished work by additions of their own" {''Shake- 
speare/^ by Sir Walter Raleigh ^ p. 109). 


Oxford's Crest and Family Motto 

An examination of the De Vere Crest in "Fairbairn's 
Crests" (vol. II, plate 40, 2) and in the "De Walden 



Library" (vol. Banners, Standards and Badges, p. 257) dis- 
closes the interesting fact that what Sir Edwin Durning- 
Lawrence in "Bacon is Shakespeare" (page 41), had taken 
for Bacon's Crest, because it chanced to be in a presentation 
copy of the "Novum Organum," is in fact the De Vere 
Crest. Several families had the Boar as their crest; but 
the distinguishing mark of this one is the crescent upon the 
left shoulder of the animal (see "De Walden Library"). 
This is peculiar to the De Vere Crest, and appears in Sir 
Edwin Durning-Lawrence's illustration. Whatever value 
there might be in this writer's argument therefore belongs 
to De Vere. We shall not, however, discuss that argument 
at present. 

The stars upon the De Vere banner and the family 
motto : 

"Vero nihil verius" 
— nothing truer than truth — are specially interesting in 
view of Hamlet's poesy to Ophelia : 

"Doubt that the stars are fire. 
Doubt that the sun doth move, 
Doubt truth to be a liar. 
But never doubt I love." 

This mode of exaggerating by representing something 
as being "truer than truth" comes out again in Shakespeare's 
satirizing of Euphuism, where he represents Don Armado 
as using the terms of the De Vere family motto: 
"Thou art . . . truer than truth itself." 


Oxford's Portrait and the Droeshout Engraving 

It is not generally known that there is no Shakespeare 
portrait before the Droeshout engraving which appeared 
in the First Folio: that is to say, seven years after the 


death of the man It is supposed to represent; and it is of a 
totally different type from the bust of him that was set up 
at Stratford, where he would be personally known. Droe- 
shout, moreover, was only a lad of fifteen when Shak- 
spere died; he would be only twelve when Shakspere was 
in London probably for the last time, and was born only 
the year before Shakspere's supposed retirement in 1604. 
These facts, combined with the peculiar character of the 
portrait he produced, has made the question of what he had 
to work on not the least interesting of the many problems 
connected with Shakespearean authorship. 

It was not until a few months ago that we had an oppor- 
tunity of seeing a portrait of Edward de Vere in Fairfax 
Murray's reproductions of the portraits that are in the 
Duke of Portland's place at Welbeck Abbey, near Work- 
sop, Nottingham. 

Certain features in the picture immediately suggested 
the Droeshout engraving; most particularly the thin dark 
line which runs along above the upper lip, leaving a slight 
space between this suggestion of a moustache and the edge 
of the lip itself. Since then we have looked over a large 
number of portraits of the time, and have discovered noth- 
ing else similar. In addition there were the same facial 
proportions, the same arching of the eyebrows, the identical 
pose (three-quarter face), the same direction of gaze, about 
an equal amount of bust, the chief difference being that 
one is turned to the right and the other to the left: alto- 
gether there was quite sufficient to suggest that, when the 
two could be brought together, a very strong case might 
be made out for Droeshout having worked from this por- 
trait of Edward de Vere, making modifications according 
to instructions. For Oxford was only twenty-five when the 
portrait was painted, and, of course, It was necessary to 
represent Shakespeare as an older man. This would ex- 
plain the peculiar Tom Pinch-like combination of youth- 
fulness and age that is one of the puzzling features of the 
Droeshout engraving. 


We have now before us, however, what may prove to 
be the most sensational piece of evidence that our investi- 
gations have so far yielded. This is a picture known as the 
Grafton portrait of Shakespeare at 24. The full particu- 
lars respecting it are narrated in a work on the subject by 
Thomas Kay and published in 19 15: the chief aim of the 
book being to show the connection between this and another 
portrait from which the Droeshout engraving was conceiv- 
ably made. 

Now, until we can place an acknowledged portrait of 
the Earl of Oxford alongside of it, we shall defer saying 
positively that this is actually another portrait of him; but 
speaking from recollections of the other we would say at 
first sight that it is so. The eye is at once arrested again 
by the thin dark line on the upper lip that we noticed in 
Oxford's portrait; there are all the features which we 
noticed his portrait had in common with the Droeshout en- 
graving; and in those points in which the older features 
of the Droeshout engraving differed from Edward de Vere 
this one agrees with the latter. The probability that it is 
another portrait of the Earl of Oxford is therefore very 


We now come to the startling facts. First of all, al- 
though the portrait is that of a young man aged twenty- 
four, he is dressed as an aristocrat, and Stratfordianism 
is driven to invent far-fetched explanations. Again under 
the 4 of his age there had been a 3, and again more explana- 
tions have to be invented. Then, under the 8 in the date 
it looks again as if there had been another 3, and authori- 
ties are quoted to controvert it. Now as the Earl of Oxford 
would be twenty-three in the year 1573 ^^^^^^ ^'^'^ alter- 
ations are two out of the three precise alterations ivhich 
would he necessary to make the age and date in a por- 
trait of Edward de Vere agree with the particulars for 
William Shakspere of Stratford. 

In a word we have here prohahly (to be cautious for 
the present) a portrait of the Earl of Oxford with par- 


ticulars altered to fit the Stratford man : in which case our 
evidence is about as complete as it could be. The prob- 
ability is, as a study of the work suggests, that this por- 
trait was placed before Droeshout as the basis for his 
engraving. We would further add that the numbers were 
probably altered so that the engraver need not be in the 
secret. The scrubbing to which the picture has been sub- 
jected has brought up the numbers from underneath. That 
same scrubbing has, unfortunately, obliterated the high 
lights on the nose of the portrait, thus altering its shape 
and reducing its value for indentification. 

This enables us to finish our argument almost in strict 
accordance with the original plan, the seventh and last step 
of which was to connect directly as far as possible the 
newly accredited with the formerly reputed author. 

Note. — The Grafton portrait of Shakespeare has now been care- 
fully compared with the Welbeck portrait of Edward de Vere, and 
when proper allowances are made for evident differences of artistic 
treatment and skill, and for the denudation of high lights from the 
former, as well as other disfigurements resulting from ill-usage to the 
picture, there seems abundant justification for the point of view 
assumed in the above argument. In our opinion the portrait of the 
Earl of Oxford has more in common with both the Grafton portrait 
and the Droeshout engraving than these two have with one another. 


"A. W.," 46. 

Absence of letters by W. Shakspere, 23, 

Accounts of the Treasurer of the Cham- 
ber, 57-8, 65. 

Activities, dramatic, of de Vere, 256- 

Actors' licenses, Shakespeare in, 44-5. 

Admiral's, Lord, company of players, 

"Action," Spenser's, 53, 

Affectation of Sir P. Sidney, 248. 

"Agamemnon and Ulysses," Oxford's play 
of, 261, 357. 

Alengon (see Anjou). 

"All's Well," 184, 192, 194, 204-5, 210-12, 
221-2, 308, 319, 352, 391-2, 421; the 
argument from, climax to, 233-5; story 
of Bertram in, 391-2. 

Alteration of numbers in Grafton por- 
trait, 457-8. 

Ancestry of Edward de Vere, 181-90. 

Anecdote respecting Shakspere, 52; of 
Burbage and Shakspere, 63, 64. 

Anjou, Duke of, 205, 298, 404. 

Anonymity, motives for, 46, 47, 173-7. 

Anti-Stratfordian authorities, 12, 13-4; 
difficulties, 46-9, 

"Antony and Cleopatra," 350, 388. 

Archives, municipal, and Shakspere, 54-5, 

Arguments, convergence of many, 8, 64-5, 

1 16-7, 120, 170-6, 365-7, 370-2, 420-1, 

Argximent, posthumous, summ.ary of, 365- 

7, 454; poetical, 121-170; dramatic, 

Aristocracy of Shakespeare, 94-5, 183-4, 

192-3, 211, 255. 
Arundel, Charles, and Oxford, 181. 
"As you like it," 160, 180-1, 319. 352. 
Asbies, Shakspere's lawsuit, re, 44. 
Atheism. Oxford accused of, 120, 409. 
Authorities, chiefly Stratfordian, 6, 7; 

anti-Stratfordian, 12, 13; biographical, 

Authorship, importance of , i ; Merchant of 

Venice, bearing upon, 2; and William 

Shakspere, 2-3; dramatic, Halliwell- 

Phillipps on, 47. 
Autobiography in the Sonnets, 174-5, 


Bacon, Francis, 367; and Oxford, 199; 

and Essex, 332, 403; death of, 367. 
Bacon's Crest, 455. 
Baconian theory, 332, 367, 377. 
Bagehot, Richard, on Shakespeare, 169. 
Baptista Minola's crowns. 225-6; Ni- 

grone's, 226. 
Bayne, The Rev. Ronald. M.A., on 

Antony Munday, 258-9. 
Bearing of "Merchant of Venice" upon 

the authorship, 2. 
Bcdingfield, Edward de Vere's letter to, 


Bell, H. G., Mary Queen of Scots, 302. 

Benedict Spinola, 227. 

Beesly's "Queen Elizabeth," no. 

Bequests of William Shakspere, 27-31; to 
Heminge and Condell, 27; Jonson, and, 

Bertram in " All's Well," Story of, 233, 

Berowne in " L.L.L." and Oxford, 245, 

Betrothal of Anne Cecil to Sir P. Sid- 
ney, 213. 

Biographical authorities, 172; summary, 

Bishopgate, Shakspere's residence in, 40, 
43. 313; Oxford at. 313. 

Blackfriars property, deed of purchase of, 

Boar's Head tavern, Oxford at, 337-39; 
Southwark, 338. 

Boar (The) as a crest, 339, 455. 

Boccaccio, 193, 234. 

Bond, M.A., Mr. R. W.. on Lyly's works, 

Books and W. Shakspere, 18, 30; Lord 
Chamberlain's missing, 50. 

Brutus, eccentricity of, 252. 

Biillen, A. H., on Antony Munday, 258. 

Burbage, Mrs. Stopes on death of. 37. 

Burbage, Richard, 57, 66-7. 188; Com- 
pany at Court, 58, and Shakspere, 
anecdote of, 63. 64. 

Burbage, James, 318-9. 

Burleigh, Lord (see William Cecil); 
Lady, 204, 215-16. 

Burns, Robert, 177. 

Burns, Ruskin on. 17; and books. 18-19; 
education of, 18-19. 

Business methods of Shakspere. 2; trans- 
actions of Shakspere, 24. 

Business of Shakspere, 434. 

Cambridge, History of English Literature, 
121, 141: History of English Literature 
nn A. Munday, 2579; servants of de 
Vere, play at. 256. 

Carlyle on Shakespeare as dramatist, 88; 
on Shakespeare's feudalism, 93-4; 
Thomas, 127; on .Shakespeare as poet, 
307, 420. 

Castle Hedingham, 191. 2>4. 232. 

Catholicism. Shakespeare on, 102-3; an<l 
Edward de Vere, 110-4. 119. 4'o; and 
Hamlet, 409-11; and "The Tempest," 

Cecil. Anne, 203, 210, 211. 212. 213, 

227-34; and Desdcmona. 228-9; death 

of. 305-6, 407; and Juliet, i66, aia. 

388, and Ophelia, 404-5- 
Cecil. Sir Robert, 213. 329; de Vere's 

letter to, 198. 
Cecil. Thomas. 213, 217, 404; and Essex 

rebellion. 411. 
Cecil. William. 17R, I93. 20R. 254. 308-9, 

318; and literary men, 216; espionage 

of, 217, 403-4; and travel. 222; Spenser 




on, 216, 240; Macaulay on, 240, 400; 
and Queen Mary's execution, 296-303; 
and Polonius, 302-5; 400-404; character- 
istics of, 400-401; maxims, 401-2; 
philosophy of life, 401-3; and Somer- 
set, 403. 

Cecils, The, and Edward de Vere, 203. 

Chamberlain, Great, 182, 188-90, 371; 
Lord, 188-90. 

Chamberlain's, Lord, company of actors, 
54-6, 340-1; missing books, 59. 

Chapter on Stratfordian view, interpola- 
tion of, 8-9. 

Character of Edward de Vere, 114, 116- 
17, 122, 124, 131-2, 138, 158, 161, 167- 
70, 172-6, 183, 201, 216, 231-2, 273- 
4, 291-2, 299-300, 343, 367-8, 370-1, 
388-9, 412-3, 424-5. 

Chaucer, 155. 

Chettle and William Shakspere, 234-5, 

Chettle's apology, 49-50, 64. 

Child, Harold H., 121, 125. 

Church, Dean, life of Spenser, 128, 240, 
248; on Sidney's affectation, 248; on 
Spenser's "Willie," 284-6; on Bur- 
leigh's cunning, 240. 

Chronological summary, 415-19. 

Clark and Wright, Clarendon Press on 
"Macbeth," 348. 

Clarke, Cowden, 284, 359. 

Classical education of Shakespeare, 91-2. 

Clayton, John, 44. 

Climax to " All's Well " argument and 
Boccaccio, 233-4, 

Close of career in London of W. Shak- 
spere, 60. 

Coarse fun in " The Tempest," 440-1. 

Colin Clout, 287, 289. 

"Colin Clout's come home," 53. 

Collins, Arthur, on Edward de Vere, 125; 
historical recollections, 172, 206. 

Combe, Thomas, 28. 

Comedies compared with " Tempest," 432, 

"Comedy of Errors," 136, 226. 

Comedy and tragedy combined, 167-70, 

Competing solutions. 113, 366-7, 377, 381. 

Comte, Auguste, Shakespeare a sceptic, 

Concealment, motives for. 46, 173-77. 

Contemporary notices of Shakespeare, 49- 
52; silence respecting Shakspere, 52-3. 

Contemporaries and W. Shakspere, 66-7, 

Convergence of many arguments, 8, 64-66, 
116-7, 120, 170-1, 365-7, 370-2, 420-1, 

" Coriolanus," 143, 350. 

Courthope, W. J., History of Poetry, 121; 
on Edward de Vere, 121, 125. 

Creizenach, Shakespeare's aristocratic 
views, 95; on Lyly and Oxford, 265-6. 

Creighton's " Age of Elizabeth " and 
literature, no. 

Crest, Oxford's. 339, 454-5. 

Crests. Fairbairn's, 454-5. 

" Cymbeline," 350; compared with "The 
Tempest," 451. 

Damask rose and lily, 141-44. 

Dancing, 205. 

Daniel, Sonnets of, 386. 

Dante. 68, 75. 

Dark Lady in the Sonnets, 382. 

Dates of publication, 351-8. 

Dating the plays. 314-22. 

Date of " The Tempest." 429-32. 

Davison, Burleigh's letter to, 303. 

Davison's Poetical Rhapsody, 293. 

De Vere (see Vere). 

Death of Shakspere, 25; of Spenser, Jon- 
son and Dean Church on, 37; of Bur- 
bage, Mrs. Stopes on, 37; of Anne 
Cecil, 305-6; of Oxford, 342, 366. 

Dedication of " Lucrece," 374; of Son- 
nets, 374-76. 

Deed of purchase of Blackfriars property, 

Definition of the Shakespearean problem, 

Dennis, G. Ravenscroft, on the House of 
Cecil, 172, 217; on Thomas Cecil, 403. 

Desdemona and Anne Cecil, 228-9. 

Desire, Shakespeare and de Vere on, 

Desportes, Sidney's plagiarism from, 250. 
"Destiny," Hamlet and, 393-4. 
Devereux, Robert, poetry of, 203 (see 

also Essex Rebellion). 
Devereux, Walter (ist Earl), 213. 
Dictionary of National Biography, 111-17, 

Different spellings of " Shakespeare," 

^*' 45- 
Difficulties of anti-Stratfordian views, 46. 
Discovery, 20-28; preparatory movement 

towards, 7; sensational 233-4, 392. 
Disrepute in the Sonnets, 174 (see also 

Loss of good name). 
Document in Guildhall library, 35. 
Donnellv Ignatius, " The Great Crypto- 
gram, ' 11-13. 
Doubtfulness of Stratfordian view, 3. 
Dowden, Prof., list of plays, 317, 319, 

Drake, on " King Lear," 348. 
Drama and Shakespeare, 88-90. 
Dramas, unpublished, and Shakspere's 

will, 25-6, 358-9. 
Drama, evolution of Elizabethan, 262; 

Hamlet as patron of, 267, 405-6, 
Dramas, issue of Shakespearean, 311-21, 


Dramatic activities of de Vere, 256-84. 

Dramatic authorship, Halliwell-Phillipps 
on, 47, roles of Shakspere, 62. 

Dramatist, Edward de Vere as. 115, 125-6. 

Dravton at Stratford, 28; sonnets of, 

Dreams in " Hamlet " and "The Tem- 
pest," 435-7. 

Droeshout engraving, 455-8. 

Dryden on Spenser's " Willie," 285. 

Duality in Shakespeare, 253; in Ox- 
ford, 252-4; in Hamlet, 397-8. 

Dumb shows in " The Tempest," 437-8. 

Durning-Lawrence, Shakspere's signa- 
tures, 33; on Bacon's Crest, 455. 

Dyce on date of " The Tempest," 432, 

Earls Colne, 191, 

Early life of William Shakspere, 16-21. 

Early life of Oxford, 190-209, 

Eastcheap, Boar's Head tavern at, 337, 

Eccentricity of Shakespeare, 85-6; of Ed- 
ward de Vere, 114, 252; of Brutus, 
252-3; of Hamlet, 396-7. 

Echo poems, 162-4, 211. 

Echo poem in Venus and Adonis, 162. 

Echo, The, in " Romeo and Juliet," 164. 

Educated classes, Shakespeare as the 
poet of, 17. 

Education of Shakespeare, 14-5, 91-2; of 
Shakspere. 16-21; of Burns, 18-20; 
of Oxford, 195-207. 




Edwards, the choirmaster, 266, 270-1. 

Elizabeth, Queen, and Shakespeare, 54; 
funeral of, 189-90; and Oxford, 134, 
195, 198-9, 204; and Lady Burleigh, 
215; and Hatton, 219-20; proposed 
French marriage, 298-301; death of, 
and Shakespeare, 334; death of, and 
Oxford, 335. 

Elizabethan poetry, 128; drama, evolu- 
tion of, 262. 

Elze Karl on date of "The Tempest," 432. 

Emerson on Walt Whitman, 77-8; on 
Shakespeare, 78, 369. 

" I'.iiaymuin,' Lyly's play of, 269, 280. 

" England's Helicon," 141, 207, 257-8. 

English, Shakespeare's, 14; men of Let- 
ters (Shakespeare), 21, 69, 454. 

Espionage of Burleigh, 217. 

Essex, Earls of (see Devereux). 

Essex, rebellion, 61, 65; and Henry 
Wriothesley, 328-34; rebellion and 
"Richard II," 329; execution of, 331; 
rebellion and Thomas Cecil, 411. 

Essex, histories of, 172; Wright's history 
of and climax to " All's Well " argu- 
ment, 233-5. 

Euphuism, 245, 455. 

Evolution of Elizabethan drama, 262. 

Exeter, Earl of (see Thomas Cecil). 

Exposition, method of, 4-5. 

Fairbairn's Crests, 454. 

False stories of Oxford, 179-80. 

Father of Edward de Vere, 190-3, 206; 
of Hamlet, 398. 

Features, general, of Shakespeare, 84-92. 

Fenton, Geoffrey, 231. 

Feudalism and Shakespeare, 93, 410-11; 
and "The Tempest," 442. 

Fielding, 76. 

First folio of Shakespeare, 26, 62, 352, 
358; Heminge and Condell's responsi- 
bility for, 27, 358-9; Ben Jonson and, 

Fletcher, Laurence, 55. 

Folio, first, of Shakespeare, 26, 62, 352, 
358; second of Shakespeare, 277-8, 

419. . 
Forgeries, Shakespearean, 59, 430. 
Fortune and Nature, poem on, 160-161. 
Fortinbras and James I, 411-12, 
Free school at Stratford, William Shak- 

spere and, 16. 
France, Shakespeare and, 300-1. 
French language and Shakespeare, 14, 

201; and Oxford's education, 201-202. 
Fuller, Worthies' library, 123; and Sir 

Horace Vere, 408. 

Gayton's "Festivous Notes," 338. 
General features of Shakespeare, 84-92. 
Genius and the Shakespeare problem, 

Getley, Walter, 44. 

Globe theatre burnt down, 61-2, 65. 

Goethe, 76, 358. 

Golding, Arthur, tutor to Oxford, 190, 

423; and Ovid, 195; and law, 197. 
Good name, loss of, 157-9, 173-6, 343. 

Grafton portrait, 457-8. 
"Great Cryptogram," Ignatius Donnelly, 

Greek unities and "The Tempest," 442. 
Green's Short History on Oxford, no. 
Greene, 51, 64. 

Greene's attack on Shakspere, 42, 49, 

64, 362. 

Greenstreet, Mr., on William Stanley, 

Greenwood, Sir George's work, indebted- 
ness to, 6, 7; Sir George, 11, 78; on 
Ben Jonson, 30, 38; on masking per- 
formance in "The Tempest," 431. 

Greville, Fulke (Lord Brooke), 179-80, 
246, 254. 

Grosart, Dr., 172; on Edward de Vere, 
123-4; and Fuller Worthies' Library, 
130-2, 136-8. 

Guildhall library, Shakspere document in, 


Gunnyon, W., sketch of Burns, 17, 18-19. 

Hackney, Oxford's residence at, 188, 198, 
199, 313. 

Haggard Hawk, the Poems on, 108, 139- 
40, 383. 

Hall, Susanna, Shakspere's daughter, 25. 

Hall, Doctor, and Shakspere's books, 30. 

Halliwell-Phillipps, material supplied by, 
13; Outlines, 15; on Shakspere's books, 
18; on death of Shakspere, 25; on 
testamentary irregularities, 33-34; on 
Shakspere's residence at Stratford, 40; 
on Shakespeare as a dramatist, 41; on 
purchase of New Place, 41; on dramatic 
authorship, 47; on Shakspere as actor, 
54-55; on Treasurer of Chambers ac- 
counts, 57; and the Boar's Head tav- 
ern, Eastcheap, 337-9. 

Hamlet, 51, 96, 137, 172, 192, 204, 222, 
301, 308, 319, 322, 342, 352-3, 354, 364, 
421, 425; and secrecy, 48; as patron 
of drama, 267, 406; sea experiences 
of, 305; publication of, 357-8; Frank 
Harris on, 390; Shakespeare as, 390- 
414; father and mother of, 398-9; and 
Laertes, 405; and his times, 409; dying 
appeal of, 412-3; and versification in 
"Tempest," 448-50; and dumb-shows, 
437-8; and the De Vere motto, 455. 

Handwriting (see Penmanship). 

Heminge and Condell, responsibility for 
first folio, 27, 358-9, 366. 

Harris, Frank. "The Man Shakespeare," 
7, 148-9, 184, 212, 245, 254-5, 374; on 
Hamlet, 390. 

Harris, Sergeant, 199. 

Harvey, Gabriel, 242-4, 269-70, 275, 287, 


Hatfield manuscripts, 172, 198, 239, 313, 

Hatton and Oxford, 219-20, 254. 

Hedingham (see Castle Hcdingham). 

Helena in "All's Well" and Lady Ox- 
ford, 210, 212. 

Henneage, Thomas, 57, 194, 364. 

"Henry IV," Parts I and II, 337-9. 
351; Part II, 319, 354. 363. 

"Henry V," 253, 301, 319, 352, 363. 

"Henry VI," Parts I, II and III, 95, 
185-7; Part III. 153. 

"Henry VIII," 78, 317, 349. 429- 

Holofernes, 242-4. 

Home life of Shakspere, 16. 

Homeric poems and Shakespeare, 3, 68. 

Horatio and Hamlet, 407-9. 

Horatio de Vere, 362, 407-9- 

Horsemanship, 2067; and "The Tem- 
pest." 444. 

Hostility between de Vere and Bur- 
leigh, 217-41. 

Howard, Charles, Earl of Nottingham, 



Human nature and "The Tempest," 445-6- 

Hume, Martin, on The Great Lord Bur- 
leigh, 172, 302; on Mary Queen of 
Scots, 302; on Burleigh's maxims, 401. 

Hunsdon, Lord, 189. 

Hunter on "The Tempest," 429, 431. 

Ignoto, 46. 

Importance of authorship, i. 

Income of W. Shakspere, 24, 56-7, 360-1. 

Incredibilities of Stratfordian views, 48. 

Indebtedness to Sir G. Greenwood's work, 

6, 7; to Sir Sidney Lee's work, iii; 

to Halliwell-Phillipps's work, 15-6; to 

Frank Harris's work, 254-5. 
Interpolation of Chapter on Stratfordian 

view, 8. 
Interrogatives, Shakespeare's and de 

Vere's use of, 153-4. 
Inventor of the Shakespeare sonnet, 386. 
Issue of Shakespearean dramas, 310-21. 
Italy, Edward de Vere in, ii6, 208, 

223-27; and Shakespeare, 96-7. 

Jaggard, "Passionate Pilgrim," 144. 

James I, Coronation of, 189; and Fortin- 
bras, 411. 

Jonson, Ben, and the first folio, 27-8 
not mentioned in Shakspere's will, 2y 
son of. 29; visit to Shakspere, 28-30 
verse in first folio, 38. 

Jonson, Ben, 51, 65, 66, 67; and Shak- 
spere, 63; and "Every man out of his 
humour," 339. 

Judith and Susanna Shakspere, 25. 

Juliet and de Vere's childwife, 166, 21 1-2, 

"Julius Caesar," 255, 319, 352, 

Kay, Thomas, on Grafton portrait, 457-8. 

Kemp, William, 57. 

"King John," 352. 

"King Lear," 253, 301, 317, 347-8, 352, 

Knight on date of "Tempest," 431, 
Knyvet, Sir Thomas, antagonism with 

Oxford, 251. 

Laertes and Polonius, 401; and Thomas 
Cecil, 403-4. 

Lancastrian sympathies of Shakespeare, 
95-6; of Oxford, 118. 

Lang, Andrew, and Shakespeare's rapid 
production, 322-3. 

Lark, The morning, 165. 

Last years of William Shakspere at 
Stratford, 21-5, 

Later plays of Shakespeare, 345-51, 
365-6, 454. 

Latin, Shakespeare's knowledge of, 14, 
201; and Oxford's education, 201-2. 

Law and Shakespeare, 14, 92; and Ox- 
ford, 197-8. 

Lawsuit of Shakspere re Asbies, 44. 

Lee, Sir Sidney, Heminge and Condell 
responsibility for first folio, 27, 358-9; 
on publication of Shakespeare's dramas, 
39, .49. 316, 353, 356; on Shakspere's 
business transactions, 44; on Shakspere 
as actor, 54; Life of William Shakes- 
peare, 70; on Shakespeare and drama, 
89; on Shakspere and money matters, 
98; on Edward de Vere, 11 1-2, 124; on 
Jaggard, 144; on Will and Desire, 149; 
on Arthur Golding's "Ovid." 195; on 
Shakesi>eare's French and Latin, 201; 
on Sidney's plagiarism, 250; on Shake- 

speare and Lyly, 268-9; on Shake- 
speare's later plays, 345, 349-50; on 
Pericles, 356; on the Sonnets, King 
Lear, Troilus and Cressida, 356; on 
proposed marriage of Southampton, 
378-9; on mummery in "Cymbeline," 

Lefranc, Prof., 11-2; on William Stan- 
ley, 381. 

Letter, only, addressed to Shakspere, 42; 
to Bedingffield, Edward de Vere's, 

Letters of Edward de Vere, 198-9, 265, 

Letters by W. Shakspere, absence of, 

^ .23, 52-3. 

Licenses, actors', Shakespeare in, 44-5. 

Life, early, of W. Shakspere, 16-21; of 
Oxford, 190-209. 

Lily and Damask rose, 14 1-4. 

Literary, experts and Shakespeare prob- 
lem, 71-2; interests of Shakespeare, 86- 
8; transition and Edward de Vere, 129; 
style of Edward de Vere, 130-1; form, 
a peculiar, 156; quality of "The Tem- 
pest," 433-4; men in the Savoy, 269-70. 

Literature, Cambridge History of, 121, 
141; and stage plays, 323-7. 

Living, William ShaJcspere's rate of, 22. 

Loftie's memorials of the Savoy, 269-70. 

London, residence in, of Shakspere, 
39-40; residence in, of Oxford, 188, 
222-4; Oxford's company of actors in, 

Lord Chamberlain's company of actors, 
54-6; books missing, 59, 65; company 
and the Spanish ambassador, 61; com- 
pany litigation, 61. 

Loss of good name, 157-9, 173-6, 203, 
235-6, 239-241, 255-6, 368, 371, 388, 
409-10, 412-14, 424-5. 

Love's contrariness, 147-8; i>enalties, 149- 
50; Labour's Won, 235. 

Love's difficulties, poems on, 145-7. 

"Love's Labour's Lost" and the De Vere 
motto, 454-5- 

"Love's Labour's Lost," 75, 136, 143, 
168, 200, 242-251, 259, 268, 276, 315, 
322, 351, 354, 363, 391, 421. 

Lovers, Shakespeare's, 439-40, 

"Lucrece," 142-3, 153-6, 252, 255, 316, 
322, 351; dedication of, 374. 

Lyly, 122, 182; and the Oxford Boys, 
265-9; and maxims of Polonius, 402; 
and Shakespeare's works, 268-282; and 
Oxford, 270-72, 281-2. 

Lyly's "Campaspe," 276-7, 282; "Whip 
for an ape," 277; "Endymion," 269, 
280; "Gallathea," 282; "Love's met- 
amorphosis," 282; "Woman in the 
Moon," 283; lyrics, 269, 276-82; works, 
Mr. R. W. Bond, M.A., on, 269-78; 
Euphues, 273. 

Lyric poetry of Shakespeare, 90-1; of 
Edward de Vere, 121-2, 134, 

Lyrics of Lyly, 269. 

Macaulay on Shakespeare's religion, 102; 

on Burleigh, 240-1, 400. 
"Macbeth," 317, 347-9, 352, 365. 
Magic in "The Tempest," 441-2. 
Maledictions, closing, by Shakespeare and 

de Vere, 155. 
"Man Shakespeare" (see Harris). 
Manners, Roger, 175, 367, 377. 
Manuscripts of Shakespeare, 26. 
Manzoni, 76. 
Marlowe, 268. 



Marriage, first, of Oxford, 210; second, 
of Oxford, 309, 383-4; of Southampton, 
proposed, 378-82; of Oxford's mother, 

Mary Queen of Scots, trial and execution 
of, 295, 302-3, 

Masterpieces and maturity, 75-8. 

Material of research not new, 6; sup- 
plied by Halliwell-Phillipps, 13. 

Maturity and masterpieces, 75-8. 

Maxims of Burleigh, 401-2. 

"Measure for Measure," 220, 319, 352. 

Melancholy of Shakespeare and de Vera, 

Mental distraction of Shakespeare and de 
Vere, 151-2. 

"Merchant of Venice," bearing of upon 
authorship, 2, 96-7, 157, 189, 226, 302, 
309.. 319. 352, 354, 363, 397; passage on 
music, 444-5. 

Meres, Francis, 51, 112, 124, 266, 314. 

"Merry Wives of Windsor," 280, 319, 
352, 354, 364; and the Boar's Head 
tavern, 338-9. 

Method of exposition, 4-5 ; of solution 
of Shakespeare problem, 79-83, 420-1, 

Method, business, of Shakespeare, 2. 

Mezieres on Lyly and Shakespeare, 271. 

Middle period of W. Shakspere, 39-67. 

"Midsummer Night's Dream," 136, 146-8, 
259-61, 268, 313, 319, 352, 354, 363; 
and "The Tempest," 430. 

Milton, 75. 

Miranda, 439-40. 

Missing, signatures of Shakspere, 33; 
books of the Lord Chamberlain, 59, 65. 

Modern revolution, Shakespeare and, 
409-12; times, Shakespeare and, 425-27. 

Moliere, 76, 177. 

Money, and Shakespeare, 2, 98-9; mat- 
ters and Edward de Vere, 115; diffi- 
culties of Edward de Vere, 308-9. 

Morant, History of Essex, 172. 

Mother of Edward de Vere, 193-4, 3991 
Hamlet, 394, 398. 

Motives for anonymity, 46-7; for conceal- 
ment, 173-7. 

Motto of the De Veres, 455. 

"Much Ado about Nothing," 140, 319, 
352, 354, 363. 

Munday, Anthony, 208, 223, 323, 423; 
Oxford and Shakespeare, 257-61, 283. 

Municipal archives and Shakspere, 54-S, 

Music and Shakespeare, 97-8. 

Music passage in "Merchant of Venice," 
444-5 ; passage in "The Tempest," 444. 

Musical taste of Edward de Vere, 115. 

"Mystery," Shakespeare, 68-70. 

Mysteriousness of Shakespeare, 84-5. 

New Place, purchase of, 42-3. 
Non-literary occupations of Shakspere, 24. 
Norfolk, Duke of, 233. 
North's Plutarch "Coriolanus," 350. 
Note, preliminary, xi. 

Notices, contemporary, of Shakespeare, 

Obituary notice, none of Shakspere, 37. 
Occupations of Shakspere, 22-5. 
Ophelia and Hamlet, 394-7, 455; and 

Lady Oxford, 405. 
"Othello," 139. 159, 316, 319, 342, 352, 

353. 383, 421; and de Vere, 227-30, 


"Outlines," by Halliwell-Phillipps, 15. 

Ovid, 138. 

Oxford, Earls of, 181-193 (see Vere); 
and the Wars of the Roses, 185-7; 
Shakespeare and, 186; and Great 
Chamberlains, 188-9. 

Oxford Boys, The, 170; and Lyly, 265-69. 

Oxford, first Countess of (see Anne 
Cecil); second Countess of (see Eliza- 
beth Trentham). 

Parents of William Shakspere, i6. 

Passage, opening, of Shakspere's will, 

"Passionate Pilgrim," The, 144. 

Peculiar literary form, 156-7. 

Penmanship of Shakspere, 20, 31; of 
Burns, 20; of Edward de Vere, 323. 

Penzance, Lord, 11, 13. 

"Pericles," 78, 317, 352, 354, 355. 356. 

Period, middle, of W. Shakspere, 3967. 

Periods, three, of Shakspere's hfe, 21, 
35-7; of Shakespearean publication, 

Petrarch, Sidney's plagiarism from, 250. 

Petrarcan sonnet and Shakespeare's, 

Phillipps, Augustine, 58, 61. 

Philosophy, opportunist, of Polonius, 
401-3; of "The Tempest," 433-7. 

"Phoenix' Nest, The," 121. 

Pity, desire for, 161. 

Plagiarism of Sir P. Sidney, 249-50. 

Plays, Ben Jonson's, Shakspere in, 60-1; 
as poetry, 326-8; later plays of Shake- 
speare, 345-51, 365-6, 454. 

Poem on Fortune and Nature, 160- 1. 

Poems, of Shakespeare, publication of, 
43; of Lord Vaux, 136-7; on Love's 
difficulties, 145-9; by Edward de 
Vere, 108-9, 135-170, 232-3, 2ZT, 246, 
260, 263, 264, 289, 312, 383, 387. 

Poetry, History of W, T. Courthope, 121; 
Elizabethan, 128; and stage plays, 327, 

Politicians and Shakespeare, 301-3; and 
Hamlet, 410; 

Polonius, 213, 214, 218, 222, 397; and 
Burleigh, 400-6. 

Portrait, of Oxford, 456; Droeshout, of 
Shakespeare, 455-6; Grafton, of Shake- 
speare, 457. 

Portland, Duke of, and Oxford's por- 
trait, 456. 

Posthumous arguments, summarized, 
365-6; and Prof. Sir Walter Raleigh, 


Preliminary note, xi. 

Preparatory movement towards the Dis- 
covery, 7. 

Preservation of secret, 47-8. 

Prince Hal at Boar's Head. Eastcheap, 
337-8; his escapades and Oxford, 

Problem, the Shakespeare. 60, 78; solu- 
tion required. 70-1; defined, 71. 

Problem not purely literary. 4. 

Provincial tours of Shakespeare's com- 
pany, 54-6. 

Publication of Shakespeare s dramas, and 
W. Shakspere. 39: dates of, 35 '-8. 

Purchase of New Place, 42-3. 

Purpose of the Thesis, 3- 

Puttenham, 112, 124, 266. 270. 

Ouarrel with Sidney, Oxford's. 247-8. 
Queen's company of actors, 341. 



Raleigh, Sir Walter (Professor) on 

Stratfordian traditions, 21; on Shak- 

spere's London life, 40; and "English 

Men of Letters," 69; on A. Golding's 

"Ovid," 196; on Shakespeare's later 

plays, 454. 
Ralegh, Sir Walter, 53, 219-20, 254; and 

execution of Essex, 331. 
Raynolds, 28. 
Rate of living of William Shakspere, 

Realism in Oxford and Shakespeare, 128- 

31, 138, 435- 
Records, the, of Edward de Vere, 

Religion, Shakespeare's, 102; Oxford's, 

119-20; Hamlet's, 409-10. 
Reputation, loss of, 157-9; of Edward de 

Vere, 172-3 (see Loss of Good 

Research, material of, not new, 6; 

method of, 79-83, 420-22, 458. 
Residence at Stratford of W. Shakspere, 

25; at Southwark of Shakspere, 42; at 

Bishopsgate, 40, 43. 
Residences of Edward de Vere, 188, 310, 

Retirement of Edward de Vere, 307-314. 
"Return from Parnassus," 51. 
Revolution, Shakespeare and Modern, 

"Richard II" and the Essex rebellion, 

329, 363- 
"Richard II," 61, 95, 136, 157, 182-183, 

206-207, 319, 338, 351- 
"Richard III," 96, 185-188, 319, 351-3. 
Rogers, Philip, 44. 
Romeo and Juliet, 99, 136, 159, 166, 212, 

251. 319. 351; the echo in, 163-164. 
Romeo and Juliet and de Vere's poetry 

compared. 164. 387. 
Romeo and Juliet, The morning lark, 

165; sonnets in, 387. 
Ronsard, Sidney's plagiarism from, 250. 
Roles, dramatic, of Shakspere, 62. 
Royal Ward, Edward de Vere, as, 116. 
Ruskin on Shakespeare, Burns and 

Dickens, 17; on Shakespeare's women, 


Sadler, Hamlett, 28. 

Savoy, Loftie's memorials of, 269-70; Ox- 
ford and literary men in the, 269-70. 

Scepticism regarding Stratfordian view, 

Scepticism (religious) of Shakespeare, 
103; of Edward de Vere, 119-120; of 
Hamlet, 409-10. 

School, free, at Stratford, William Shak- 
spere, and, 16. 

Scott, 17, "jG, 299, 322. 

Sea, the, in Shakespeare's plays, 303-5, 

Search for Shakespeare, 105-113. 

Second folio of Shakespeare, 277-8, 419. 

Secrecy and Hamlet, 48. 

Secret, preservation of, 48, 49. 

Secret occupations of Shakespeare, 179; 
of Oxford, 314. 

"Sejanus," Jonson's, 60. 

Sensational discovery, 233-35, 392. 

"Shakespeare," different spellings of, 
xi, 44-45; and travel, 2; and money, 
2. 98; and business, 2; and the 
Homeric poems, 3; and law, 14, 92, 
197-98; education of, 14; and the 
French language, 14; his English, 14; 
as the poet of the educated classes, 

17-18; first folio of, 26, 62; manuscripts 
of, 26; Sir G. Greenwood on Jonson's 
view of, 38; in actors' licenses, 45; con- 
temporary notices of, 49-52; Edmund 
Spenser's silence respecting, 53-54; and 
Queen Elizabeth, 54; in the Treasurer 
of Chamber's accounts, 57; forgeries 
of, 59; "Mystery," 68-70. 

"Shakespeare" problem, 68-72; solution 
required, 70; problem and literary ex- 
perts, T2; and genius, 73-76; modernity 
of, 77-8; method of solution of, 79-83. 

Shakespeare, general features, 84-92; 
mysteriousness of, 84-85; eccentricity 
of, 85-86; Byron and Shelley, 85; his 
literary interests, 87-88; and the 
drama, 88-90; as lyric poet, 90-91; 
classical education, 91-92; and feudal- 
ism, 93-94; an aristocrat, 94-95; and 
sport, 97; scepticism of, 102-103; and 
music, 97-98; on woman, 99-101; on 
Catholicism, 102-103; search for, 105- 

Shakespeare and de Vere's poetry, 139-70; 
mental distraction, 15 1-2; use of inter- 
rogatives, 153-4; closing maledictions, 
155; melancholy, 156-7. 

Shakespeare, and high birth, 183-4; 
duality of, 252-3; Slunday and Ox- 
ford, 257-61; and Lyly, 268-82; and 
Spanish Armada, 303-5 ; dramas, issue 
of, 311-21, 346-59; and Queen Eliza- 
beth's death, 334; publication arrested, 
347, 352-3 ;_ publication revived, 353-7; 
second folio, 2"]^, 419; later plays, 
345-51, 365-6; contemporaries of, in the 
plays, 242-52, 390; as Hamlet, 390-414; 
in his dramas, 391-3. 

Shakespeare and travel, 222-4; and 
France, 300-1; and politicians, 301-2. 

Shakespeare's, poems, publication of, 43; 
plays, publication of. Sir S. Lee on, 
49; Lancastrian sympathies, 96; Italian 
interests, 96-7; sonnets, 143; French 
and Latin, 200-1; method of production, 
314-5, 321-2. 

Shakspere, William, and the authorship, 
2-z, 423; his early life, 16-21; parents 
of, 16; and the free school at Strat- 
ford, \(); and books, 18, 30; last years 
at Stratford, 21-5; absence of letters 
by, 2Z, 52; residence at Stratford, 
25, 39-40; his will, 25-33; his daughter, 
25; his will and the unpublished, 25-26, 358-9; bequests of, to 
Heming and Condell, 27; missing 
signatures of. 33; property of, 35; no 
obituary notice of, 37; his middle 
period, 39-67; and publication of Shake- 
speare's dramas, 39, 320, 322; residence 
in London, 40, 43; only letter ad- 
dressed to, 42; _ Greene's attack on, 
42, 49, 362; residence in Southwark, 
42; business of, 43-44; lawsuit re 
Asbies, 44; anecdote respecting, 52; 
contemporary silence respecting, 52-53; 
as actor, 54-63; his income, 24, 56-57; 
in Ben Jonson's plays, 60; close of 
career in London, 60; his dramatic 
roles, (i2; and Ben Jonson, 27-30, 37-38, 
63; and municipal archives, 55, 65; 
and his contemporaries, 66-67; and the 
Essex rebellion, 329; and Chettle. 335; 
his retirement, 359-60, 366; role of, 

Shakspere's day, Stratford in, \(); pen- 
manship, 20, 31; three periods. 21, 36; 
rate of living, 22', non-literary occu- 
pations, 24; business transactions, 24, 



25, 360-1, 364; income, 25, 56-57; 
books, Doctor Hall and, 30; will, open- 
ing passage, 30. 

Sharp, Wm., on Shakespeare's sonnet, 

Shepherd, Tony, 46, 208, 257-8. 

"Shepherds' Calendar," 136; and Spen- 
ser's "Willie," 287. 

Shooting, 117. 

Shoreditch, theatres at, 310. 

Sidney, Sir Philip, 53, 122, 128, 145, 
178, 179, 213; betrothal to Anne Cecil, 
213; travels of, 220; and Boyet. 246- 
251; afifectation of, 248; debts of, 249; 
plagiarism of, 250; and literary men, 
275; and Spenser's "Willie," 285-94; 
death and funeral of, 295-300. 

Signatures of Shakspere, Sir E. Maunde 
Thompson on, 32-33. 

Silence, contemporary, respecting W. 
Shakspere, 52, 53, 64-65. 

Six-lined stanza, "The, 108-109, 135-36. 

Solution required for the Shakespearean 
problem, 70; of Shakespeare problem, 
method of, 79-83. 

Solutions, competing, 112-13, 332-3, 

Somerset, Duke of, and Burleigh, 403. 

Son of Ben Jonson, 29. 

Sonnets, the, loo-ioi, 143, 152, 158, 161, 
168, 253-4, 352, 353-4, 356, 366, 421; 
disrepute in the, 173; autobiography in 
the, 173-74. 369-72; Shakespeare's se- 
cret occupations, 179; and the Earl of 
Southampton, 333-4, 372-4; dedication, 
355-6, 374-5; closing of the series, 365, 
371-2; dedication of, 374-6; the "dark 
lady" in. 382; and Oxford's chief in- 
terests, 384-5 ; the Shakespeare, invent- 
or of, 386; Petrarcan and Shake- 
speare's, 386; in "Romeo and Juliet," 

Southampton, Mary Countess of, 57, 373, 
3og; Earl of (see Wriothesley, H.). 

Southwark, Shakspere's residence in. 42. 

Spanish ambassador and the Lord Cham- 
berlain's company, 61, 65; Armada. Ox- 
ford and, 304. 406; Armada, Shake- 
speare and. 304. 

Spellings of "Shakespeare," different, xi, 

Spenser, death of, Jonson and Dean 
Church on, 37. 

.Spenser, Edmund, silence respecting 
Shakespeare, 53, 65, 66, 136, 243; on 
de Vere, 123, 275; on Burleigh, 216, 
240; Sidney's plagiarism from, 249: 
Shepherd's Calendar, 275; "Teares of 
the Muses." 284, 287, 290-1; and Ed- 
ward de Vere, 291. 

Snenser, Gabriel, 60. 

Spenser's "Action." 53; "Willie," 285-91, 
371, 424; "Willie" and Sidney, 286-03. 

Sport. Shakespeare's interest in. 97; Ox- 
ford's interest, 117; and "The Tem- 
pest," 445. 

St. John, Lord, on Oxford's marriage, 

Stage plays and literature, 323-8; and 
poems, 326-8. 

Stanley. William. 175; marriage with 
Elizabeth de Vere. 382; Mr. Green- 
street on, 381; M. Lefranc on, 381. 

State papers, calendars of, 172, 336. 

Staunton on date of "The Tempest," 432. 

Stopes, Mrs., on death of Burbage, 37; 
on Treasurer of Chamber's accounts, 
58-9; on Stratfordian traditions, (^2; on 
"Burbage and Shakespeare's stage," 

199, 261; on proposed marriage of 
Southampton, 379. 

Stratford, in Shakspere's day, 16; last 
years of William Shakspere at, 21-5; 
Grammar School, 16; Shakspere's resi- 
dence in, 25, 39-40; Oxford's company 
of players at, 257. 

Stratfordian, view, doubtfulness of, 3 
377; authorities chiefly used, 6, 7 
view, chapter on, interpolation of, 8 
view, _ scepticism regarding, 11; in 
credibilities, 49. 

Sturley, Abraham, 44. 

Summary, biographical, 415-19; of evi 
dence, 420-22. 

Susanna and Judith Shakspere, 25. 

"Taming of the Shrew," 136, 137, 140, 
202, 226, 308. 

Taxes, Shakspere's payment of, 39-40. 

"Tempest, The." 351, 352; examination 
of, 429-53; Hunter on, 429, 431; date 
of, 429-32; compared with other com- 
edies, 432-3; literary quality of, 433-4; 
philosophy of, 433-7; and Hamlet, 435- 
6, 437-8; versification compared. 448- 
50; "dumb-shows and noise," 437-8; un- 
Shakespearean details in. 439; absence 
of wit in, 439-40; coarse fun in, 439-40; 
magic in, 441-2; and Greek unities, 
442; and Feudalism, 442; and Catho- 
licism, 442-3; and woman, 443-4; and 
horsemanship, 444; and sport, 445; and 
human nature, 445 ; vocabulary of, 446- 
7; versification of, 447-51; weak end- 
ings in, 451; passage on music in, 444- 
5; and "Cymbeline" compared, 451. 

Testamentary irregularities, 34. 

Theatres at Shoreditch. 310, 313; at New- 
ington Butts, 312; at Bankside, 312. 

Thesis, purpose of, 3. 

Thompson. Sir E. Maunde, and Shake- 
speare's manuscripts, 26, 261; on Shak- 
spere's signatures. 31-3, 34. 

Three periods of Shakspere's life, 21, 

"Timon of Athens." 78, 317, 349. 

"Titus Andronicus," 78. 352, 355, 363. 

Tours, provincial, of Shakespeare's com- 
pany, 54-5. 

Tragedy and comedy combined, 167-70, 

Traditions. Stratfordian. Sir W. Raleigh 
on, 21; Mrs. Stopes on, 62. 

Transactions, business, of W. Shakspere, 

24. 43-4- 
Travel and Shakespeare, 2, 96-7, 116, 

Treasurer of the Chamber, accounts of, 

58-9. 65. 340. 
Trentham, Elizabeth, Second Countess of 

Oxford, 308-9, 361, 364, 375. 
Trentham. Thomas, 375. 
Trinl and execution of Mary Queen of 

Scots, 2g^. 302-3. 
"Troilus and Cressida," 261-2, 313, 319, 

3^2. 356. 
"Twelfth Night," 302. 319. 35 2. 
"Two Gentlemen of Verona," 149. 223, 

Tyrell. Sir Charles, marries Oxford's 

mother, 309. 

University. Edward dc Vere at. 116. 
Universities, Oxford and, 201-2, 



V'aux, Lord, 155; poems of, 136-7. 

Venus and Adonis, 107, 143, 162, 206, 
316, 322, 329, 331, 351; Echo poem in, 
162; The morning lark, 165. 

Vere (de), Edward, poem on women, 
108-9, no; religion, no, 119-20, 299- 
300, 409-10; Sir Sidney Lee on, 111-12; 
Webbe on, 112; eccentricity of, 114, 
252, 396-7; musical taste of, 115; and 
money matters, 115; as dramatist, 115, 
125-6; as Royal Ward, 116; at the Uni- 
versity, 116; in Italy, 116, 223-29; in- 
terest in sport, 117; Lancastrian sym- 
pathies of, 118, 185-6; and woman, 118, 
370; as lyric poet, 121, 135; W. J. 
Courthope on, 12 1-2; Edmund Spenser 
on, 123, 291; Grosart on, 123-4; Arthur 
Collins on, 125; and the literary transi- 
tion, 129; literary style of, 130-1; 
character of, 138-9, 342-3; letter to 
Bedingfield, 132-4; and Queen Eliza- 
beth, 134. 

Vere (de), Edward, and Shakespeare on 
Desire, 145-8; mental distraction of, 
151; use of interrogatives, 153-4; clos- 
ing maledictions of, 155-6; melancholy 
of, 156-7; loss of good name, 158-60, 

Vere (de), Edward, lyric poetry, com- 
parison with "Romeo and Juliet," 164- 
5. 387-8; "The morning lark" poetry, 
165-6; his childwife, 166; records of, 
172-80; reputation of, 172. 342-3 (see 
character); and travel, 178, 220-30; 
false stories of, 179-80; and Charles 
Arundel, 181; ancestry of, 181-90; resi- 
dences of. 188, 310; father of. 190-3; 
mother of, 194; and Queen Elizabeth, 
195, 198-9, 204; and law, 199; letter to 
Sir Robert (Tecil, 198; and Francis 
Bacon, 199; education of, 195-208; 
and the Universities, 202; and the 
Cecils, 202-3; marriage of, 210; and 
early tragedy, 218; hostility with Bur- 
leigh, 218-41; and Hatton. 228-30; and 
Othello, 228-30; poems of. 108-9, i3S- 
70, 232-3, 237, 246. 260, 263-5, 289-90, 
312, 383, 387; quarrel with Sidney, 
247; antagonism with Sir T. Knyvet, 
251; duality of, 252-3; dramatic activi- 
ties of, 256-84; servants of, at Cam- 
bridge and London. 256; servants of, 
at Stratford. 257; Munday and Shake- 
speare, 257-61; play of Agamemnon, 
261; letters of, 265, 313; in the Savoy. 
269-70; and Lyly. 265, 269-82; and 
Spenser's "Willie," 287-93; and Phillip 
Sidney, 295-300; and his times, 299- 
302; and Spanish Armada. 303-4; re- 
tirement of, 309-14; money difficulties 
of, 308-9; second marriage of, 309, 382- 
3; and issue of Shakespearean dramas, 
310-28; at Bishopsgate, 313; penman- 

ship of, 323; and execution of Essex, 
332-3; and Queen Elizabeth's death, 
335; and presidency of Wales, 336; at 
the Boar's Head tavern, 337-9; and 
Prince Hal's escapades, 339; death of. 
342, 366; burial at Hackney, 342; and 
Shakespeare's Sonnets, 369; outstand- 
ing interests in Sonnets, 384; inventor 
of Shakespeare Sonnet, 386; Sonnet 
by, 387; and Hamlet, 395; and life at 
court, 395-6. 

Vere (de), Elizabeth, 378; marriage to 
William Stanley, 381-2. 

Vere (de), John, 12th Earl. 118; 13th 
Earl, 118, 186; i6th Earl, 190-3. 

Vere (de), Henry, i8th Earl, 176. 330; 
baptism at Stoke Newington, 331. 

Vere (de), Horatio, 362-3, 407. 408-9. 

Vere (de), Robert, and "Richard II," 

Veres, The Fighting. 408. 

Verse by Ben Jonson in first folio, 38. 

Versification in "The Tempest," 447-51; 
in Shakespeare's last plays, 349-51. 

View, doubtfulness of Stratfordian, 3. 

Visit of Ben Jonson to Shakspere. 28-30. 

Vocabulary of "The Tempest," 446-7. 

Walden (de) Library, 454-5. 

Wales, presidency of, Edward de Vere 
and, 336. 

Walsingham. pays Sidney's debts, 249, 
296; and Queen Mary's execution, 295- 

Wars of the Roses, Earls of Oxford in, 

Weak endings in Shakespeare's last plays, 
34Q-50. 451-2; in "The Tempest." 451. 

Webb, Judge, 11; on proposed marriage 
of Southampton, 379. 

Webbe, on Edward de Vere, 112, 124. 

Welbeck Abbey, Oxford's portrait at, 456. 

"Were I a King," 246-7, 288. 

White, Grant, on Macbeth. 348. 

Whitman. Walt, Emerson on, 77. 

Will (Shakspere's), 25-34; and the un- 
published dramas, 25-6, 358-g. 

Will, The. sonnets, 292-3, 371-2. 

"Willie," Spenser's, 285-93, 37 1- 

Wit, absence of, from "Tempest," 439-40. 

Woman, Shakespeare and. 99-101; Ox- 
ford and, 1 18-9; in "The Tempest," 

Worcester's, Earl of company of play- 
ers. 337- 341. 

Wright, History of Essex, 172; and cli- 
max to "All's Well" argument. 233-34. 

Wriothesley, Henry. 194, 203, 362, 366. 
423; and the Essex rebellion. 328-33: 
and the Sonnets, 333, 372-74; and 
Shakspere, 361; theatrical interests, 
363; proposed marriage of, 378-81. 

7 D 




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